Monday, 13 January 2014

The Simpson Desert comes for a High Country holiday

This area is, to say the least of it. going through a dry spell.  So I thought I would start with a snip from Google Earth of the Simpson Desert.
If you would like to take your own look at that area log in to Google Earth and search for the coordinates -25.5054 136.3310.  (NB the minus sign is crucial as is the gap between the 4 and the 1.  Without the minus you get a spot 800km East of Okinawa, close to Kyosei Seamount ; probably a very interesting area but not too relevant to deserts.)

So why am I banging on about deserts?  Basically because all the grass on our property has browned off and just about every dam in the area around us is dry or close to.  Recent messages to the COG chatline have reported that Lake George and the Big Dam on Lake Road Bungendore are now dry.

The dam closest to our house is about 30cm below full level and dropping by the day.
The next image shows a billabong on Whiskers Creek as it was on 31 December.  The water about 1 metre from the start was about 30cms deep.
A shot from pretty much the same spot on 13 January.
The vegetation is also reacting: the leaves usually come off our willows in late March as the weather gets cold.  They have been falling for 2 weeks plus already,
This is due to the very serious lack of rain for the last 10 months.  In particular we have had very few days with over 5mm of rain.  The situation is summarised in this table.

Month
days >5mm
Total days
mm
jan
4
5
101.7
feb
4
9
54.9
mar
2
3
14.5
apr
1
4
20.5
may
1
7
12.0
jun
6
7
85.8
july
3
9
43.8
aug
3
9
31.8
sep
4
6
104.0
oct
1
6
13.7
nov
5
8
76.9
dec
2
8
26.4
Total
36
81
586

The 4 biggest months (ie one third of months) account for 62% (nearly 2/3rds) of the  total rain.  March October and December were the lowest monthly rainfalls recorded in 7 years. 

In an earlier post about December rainfall I included a chart with an EXCEL projection of the 12 month moving average rainfall.  It is ugly, but I reproduce it here.
So, according to Mr Gates' product, the situation looks likely to stay bad.

What has been surprising is that there has been very little in the media about this situation.  There has been some commentary about heat and lack of feed in outback Queensland but an article in the Canberra Times last Sunday was the first to mutter about water conservation.  Possibly this reflects all the froth that has come out about:
  1. the ACT being drought proofed by the new Cotter Dam (pity it has hardly rained since that was completed); and 
  2. the ACT being drought proofed by the pipeline from the Murrumbidgee (pity one will be able to walk across the 'bidgee soon); and
  3. the ACT being drought proofed by the on-going restrictions on the use of lawn sprinklers etc.
Thus it would be politically very poor to have to say that there is a drought around and point 3 is going to have to be beefed up.

No comments: