Project Funder: The Australian Government through the Preparing Australian Communities Program
Project Lead Organisation/Researcher: Riverine Plains
Project Durations: 2022-2024
The project will investigate how an integrated network of 80 on-farm weather stations across Central and Southern NSW and Northern Victoria can better support the community, emergency services and members of the farming community in bushfire and flood management. Currently, emergency services are reliant on Bureau of Meteorology Weather Stations which can be located up to 200km apart and do not provide local climate information when fires start. On-farm weather stations have the potential to fill in gaps where there is no alternative weather information.
The Robust Weather Stations project will investigate the feasibility of bringing together five weather station and moisture probe networks (managed by the farming systems groups involved in the project), across southern Australia into a single, standardised platform. This will help inform key stakeholders on a series of localised climatic information to assist with disaster planning, such as for fires and floods. It is intended that the data provided by the Robust Weather Station network will complement the weather information provided by the Bureau of Meteorology, as the data will provide more localised information for emergency services and communities.
Climate change will cause higher average temperatures, more rapid drying of fuels and lower humidity, and increase the risk and frequency of bushfires and damage to property, livestock, infrastructure and native flora and fauna. A more robust weather station network can help farmers and communities manage the risk of fire in the region. A warmer climate is also increasing the risk of heavy rainfall events; the on-farm network of weather stations and soil moisture probes measure soil moisture, which can also help predict and measure the severity of flooding across the different regions.
A standardised platform is anticipated to provide more robust data (temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, soil moisture data information etc) and provide an opportunity for farmers, emergency services, and local, state and federal governments to better plan and prepare for disasters and climate change in Central and southern New South Wales and Victoria.
This project builds on a network of data that is available to landholders but not currently being utilised to service the wider community, including emergency services, to help manage climatic events such as fire and flood.
The project also aims to link government and private industry to help overcome some of the existing barriers to sharing climate data with a wider audience, creating better outcomes for emergency management.
Project activities will include an audit of the weather stations, data validation, implementing data sharing agreements, standardising platforms and a feasibility study.
Through the involvement of the farming system group partners, it is expected that a broad cross section of the community will become aware of the project and potentially use the data for disaster management and prevention. This will help better inform landholders and emergency services around key climatic variables to assist in decision making, in line with the Disaster Risk Reduction Framework.
This project is led by Riverine Plains Inc. Project Partners include Birchip Cropping Group, Central West Farming Systems Inc, Farmlink and Holbrook Landcare Network.
The project is supported by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Agriculture Victoria, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Griffith University.
The project also engages with the Rural Fire Services in New South Wales and the Country Fire Authority in Victoria.