Sun behind a cloud

Phase 1 of SEACI

Phase 1 of SEACI was a three and a half year, $7.5 million research program that began in January 2006 and concluded in June 2009. Phase 1 focused on strategic research to clarify the nature and causes of the prolonged dry conditions across south-eastern Australia.

The research resulted in a better understanding of the main drivers of the climate of the region, including the impact of global warming. It also explained the potential changes in the hydro-climate of the region under global warming scenarios and improved seasonal forecasts, demonstrating their potential value for agricultural decision making and water management.


Theme 1: Characterisation of current climate

Research in Theme 1 focused on the documentation of recent climate variations and the main drivers of the climate of the region. Research in this Theme included a review of past climate studies of the region, the analysis of the climate record, and modelling experiments to investigate the attribution of possible causes of the then recent variations. A major aim was to place the Millennium drought into context by comparing it with other similar episodes in the past, identifying how it differed from previous episodes and establishing how unusual it was in the light of observed and projected climate change.


Theme 2: High resolution climate projections and impacts

Research in Theme 2 focused on estimation of the future climate of the region under the enhanced greenhouse effect. This research involved the use of global climate models and related techniques to improve projections of the climate and hydrological conditions in the region over the following decades.


Theme 3: Seasonal forecasts

Research in Theme 3 focused on whether reliable climate forecasts with a lead time of 3 to 12 months could be developed for the region, and whether those forecasts could be usefully applied in hydrology and agriculture. The research involved the application of global climate models and statistical techniques to predict climate and streamflow some months ahead. The output of the global models was used to drive agricultural models of crop yield.


The Climate variability and change in south-eastern Australia (PDF, 10.3 MB) provides a summary of the key SEACI Phase 1 research findings.