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Benefits of Predictions
Forecasts are just statements of probability; they have a change of being right. There is also a chance of them being wrong.
Nevertheless, there are obvious benefits from predictions about an upcoming El Niņo. This is a paragraph from a booklet on ENSO in a Australian state:
"If Id know that it was going to stay dry, I would have sold more cattle early in the season," said the grazier. "If Id known it was going to be so wet, I wouldnt have bought that new irrigation pump," said the farmer. If those whose livelihoods depend on the weather had a better idea of the coming, season, they could make better decisions.
[Partridge, 1991, p.1]
Since there is no such thing as a perfect forecast, people in Australia and other places are often issued forecasts in terms of probability. They can improve the probabilities based on historical rainfall records. They have found ENSO can allow better prediction of rainfall in the coming season.
The strong El Niņo of 1982-83 showed that it is important to be able to predict weather patterns. These predictions concern not just the progression of an El Niņo episode and its direct consequences, but also the weather in the months and years following the El Niņo. As Peru is one of the countries that is most effected by El Niņo, it is not surprising that prediction has been used by the Peruvians since the 1982-83 event.
The economy of Peru is largely driven by agriculture, and the weather patterns dictate which type of crop will grow best. For example, two of the major crops in the northern Peru are rice and cotton. Rice is dependent on adequate rainfall to grow, while cotton can withstand drier weather. With accurate weather prediction, farmers can switch to the crop that will grow best in the next season.
In late 1983, the weather conditions in the Pacific were near normal, and the forecasts indicated that conditions for crop growth would be excellent. This dampened fears that the year after the 82-83 El Niņo would bring cooler than normal ocean temperatures, resulting in drought conditions for Peru.
Peru is not the only country to benefit from El Niņo predictions. Grain production in Brazil in 1992 was much higher than in 1987. Both years were El Niņo episodes, experiencing about 70% of the normal rainfall. In 1987 El Niņo was not planned for, and the grain harvest was reduced by the drought conditions which resulted. In 1992, prediction of an El Niņo led to planting of drought resistant crop strains, and the harvest was much more successful.
Media | The Job of Climatologists
Hear or read about the job of a climatologists as spoken by Mr. Mark Moede from the National Weather Service.
Thanks to Mark Moede from the NWS
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