World first Australian study reveals rainfall from frontal systems
Submitted by astone on Wed, 07/18/2012 - 09:40
Australian scientists have produced a world-first study that has quantified the amount of precipitation associated with global frontal systems in a way that is fully reproducible.
To get their results, the Australian researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science identified frontal systems from every region in the globe over a 12-year period. They then brought together measurements from satellites and rain gauges to determine the amount of rainfall associated with each.
Previously, research into frontal systems has tended to be focussed on small regions, and used approaches that were difficult to extend to a worldwide analysis of these systems.
“While worldwide in its scope, this study also has particular relevance to Australia, where our research showed frontal systems were responsible for a significant amount of annual rainfall,” said Dr Jennifer Catto, the lead researcher on the project.
“Over the observation period, large areas in the southern part of Western Australia, Victoria and the Murray Darling Basin received more than half of their rainfall from frontal systems.”
Importantly for scientists studying climate change, the globally reproducible method used in the study makes it a useful tool for evaluating global climate models. Work on evaluating the results produced by the Australian global climate model, the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) is now well underway.
Interestingly, observations and climate models suggest that storm tracks are shifting towards the poles. How this affects rainfall from fronts is another question that can be answered with the new method developed in this research.
The work carried out in this study is likely to be the basis of future climate research that will explore these and other key questions about global and regional rainfall behaviour under climate change.
“This world-first foundation research, which has been supported entirely by Australian grants and delivered by Australian scientists, is likely to have an important role in future climate science research,” Dr Catto said.
This study demonstrated the effectiveness of collaborative research as it was supported by several Australian Research Council Funding schemes including a Linkage Project, a Professorial Fellowship, the Superscience initiative and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.
For more information or interview opportunities contact Alvin Stone: