National climate dogs let off the leash!

Australia’s climate drivers explained through creative sheepdog animation videos


Meet Ridgy, Enso, Indy and Sam – the four new national climatedogs  that explain the latest science behind the key climate drivers bringing wetter and drier years to Australia’s farms.

And while they may look cute, these dogs round up our biggest droughts and floods.

Launched today on the Climate Kelpie website, this playful litter of animated sheepdogs help farmers and anyone reliant on the weather understand what influences the variation in Australia’s seasons.

The new national climatedog video animation series was funded by the Managing Climate Variability (MCV) program and builds on the local climatedogs concept initiated by Agriculture Victoria.

“The climatedogs have been redone to be relevant to all regions of Australia,” says climate specialist Graeme Anderson, with Agriculture Victoria.

The videos have also been updated with the Bureau of Meteorology’s latest science through research funded by MCV.

“They explain how each climate driver operates, how they affect our seasons and how some of the dogs are starting to behave a bit differently,” Anderson says.

“In the last few years, Ridgy has been playing around with southern Australia’s weather. And Indy, who rounds up moisture from the warm north-east Indian Ocean across to south-eastern Australia, is looking a bit hot under the collar at the moment.

“It’s Indy who has been the dog bringing our current wetter weather conditions to the south-east.”

Dr Tom Davison from Meat & Livestock Australia, who manage the MCV program, says the climatedogs are an important tool to help the program to communicate its research.

“These animations are a small part of the wider work we are doing to better understand what drives the variability in our climate,” he says. “This understanding allows us to manage that variability into the future, and assist farmers in running more profitable, sustainable and competitive businesses.”

The kennel of national climatedogs includes:

  • Ridgy – Subtropical Ridge – a major driver of southern Australia’s seasons
  • Enso – El Nino Southern Oscillation – influences seasonal variability across Australia
  • Indy – Indian Ocean Dipole – delivers spring rainfall to southeast and central Australia
  • Sam – Southern Annular Mode – brings cold fronts from the Southern Ocean

The national dogs join two local climatedogs developed for Victoria and NSW:

  • Eastie – East Coast Lows – key weather systems in the south-east
  • Mojo – Madden-Julian Oscillation – influences weather systems in northern Australia.

Check out the climatedogs:


Examples of how the climatedogs have affected Australians

Some of our bigger drought events like 2006 saw Enso, Indy and Sam all at the drier end of their range at the same time.

The wet 2010 for south-eastern Australia was when Enso and Indy both teamed up at the wetter end of the scale, so these dogs are worth keeping track of.

Climate drivers basically set up pre-cursor conditions for wetter or drier years. The climatedogs might only get ‘off the leash’ once every few years, but when they do it’s worth knowing what mood they are in.

The climatedogs have varying impacts across Australia, so it’s important to know how and when each one affects your district. The MCV program focuses on new research to help better understand and explain the drivers to improve people’s use of seasonal forecasts.

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