Dr John Abbot from CQUniversity examines the weather patterns on his laptop program that predicts conditions up to nine months in advance.
Dr John Abbot from CQUniversity examines the weather patterns on his laptop program that predicts conditions up to nine months in advance. Sharyn Oneill

CQ doctors develop forecast system

JOHN Abbot and Jennifer Marohasy could be Rockhampton's silver lining in the event of another major flood.

The two CQUniversity doctors are able to forecast seasonal rainfall up to nine months ahead, which could give the city a warning months in advance in the event of another flood.

Dr Abbot combined his interest in artificial intelligence for pattern recognition with Dr Marohasy's knowledge of climate science to come up with a neural network system that predicts monthly rainfall from three to nine months in advance.

Their system is the focus of a study about to be published in the international journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

They decided to put their heads together just after the January 2011 flood that isolated Rockhampton from the rest of Central Queensland.

The method is based on pattern analysis accepting that there are patterns like short- and long-term cycles evident in rainfall data.

Neural networks, based on artificial intelligence, can consider large numbers of climate indices like El Nino and other inputs simultaneously and make a forecast.

Dr Abbot said statistical analysis showed their method was more accurate than the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for 16 of 17 sites studied in Queensland.

"The findings have significant application to everyone affected by the weather, particularly agriculture and mining with scheduling of mine activities in CQ significantly impacted by wet days," he said.

"We can look at whether it is going to be a wet or a dry summer."

Dr Marohasy said she was keen to get government support on their method of forecasting.

They will make improvements to their initial neural network system and produce another prototype later this year.

 

Rain coming

According to weatherzone.com Rockhampton can expect:

  • Today: A 50% chance of 1-5mm of rainfall
  • Tomorrow: A 90% chance of 5-10mm
  • Friday: 90% chance of 5-10mm
  • Saturday: 90% chance of 5-10mm.


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