Thursday, 23 June 2005: 10:45 AM
North & Center Ballroom (Hilton DeSoto)
Climate shifts caused by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are well-known and used as a tool by many forecasting centers to predict seasonal precipitation and temperature trend up to 9 months in advance. These climate shifts are particularly strong in the Southeast United States. During the winter and spring months, El Niño brings plentiful rainfall (up to 40% greater than normal) and cooler temperatures to Florida and the Gulf Coast. Conversely, La Niña is associated with warm and dry winter and spring seasons in the Southeast. These ENSO-related climate shifts can have a tremendous impact on agriculture and forestry, and the use of climate information in decision making can help these industries take advantage of favorable conditions, reduce climate-related risks, and mitigate possible damages. In response to the demand for timely, detailed, and targeted climate forecasts and information, the Southeast Climate Consortium has developed a web-based decision support system for agriculture and forestry in the Southeast United States (Florida, Georgia, and Alabama). The web site is named AgClimate (www.agclimate.org) and features two fully interactive decision support tools as its centerpiece, the climate risk tool and crop yield risk tool. The climate risk tool is driven by a data base of over 50 years of historical temperature and precipitation observations from the National Weather Service's automated and cooperative weather networks. Based on the current and projected ENSO phase, the tool displays graphical information on averages and anomalies, probability distributions, and exceedence curves. The crop yield tool displays similar ENSO-based graphics of yield probabilities for specialty crops (peanuts, tomato, potatos) driven by a data base populated using weather-driven crop development models. The website also provides specialty climate forecast for freeze probabilities and wildfire risk. All of this climate information is framed with a rich background on ENSO and climate and a host of information on specialty crops and management practices.
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