Summer 2013 - Volume 3 Issue 4
Welcome to our first e-newsletter version of Milking the weather, in which we feature a new segment "Spotlight On". It will be based on a face to face interview with farmers and or service providers involved in the dairy industry that are taking innovative approaches in dealing with climate change.
Also in this edition we focus on coping with the current summer season which will consist of warmer than average temperatures and average rainfall.
Did You Know...
Did you know that the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, more simply known as "El Nino" has a strong connection with the meaning of Christmas?
El Niño in Spanish translates to 'the boy-child'. Peruvian fisherman originally used this reference to the Christ child as a description of the appearance, (around Christmas time) of a warm ocean current off the South American coast.
Nowadays, the term El Niño refers to the extensive warming of the central and eastern Pacific that leads to a major shift in weather patterns across the Pacific. In Australia (particularly eastern Australia), El Niño events are associated with an increased probability of drier conditions.
Changes to the atmosphere and ocean circulation during El Niño events include:
- Warmer than normal ocean temperatures across the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
- Increased convection or cloudiness in the central tropical Pacific Ocean - the focus of convection migrates from the Australian/Indonesian region eastward towards the central tropical Pacific Ocean.
- Weaker than normal (easterly) trade winds.
- Low (negative) values of the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index).
Monitoring these changes helps to detect an El Niño event and forecast its lifetime.
In contrast La Niña translates from Spanish as "the girl-child". The term "La Niña" has become the conventional meteorological label for the opposite of the better known El Niño.
The term La Niña refers to the extensive cooling of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. In Australia (particularly eastern Australia), La Niña events are associated with increased probability of wetter conditions.
Changes to the atmosphere and ocean circulation during La Niña events include:
- Cooler than normal ocean temperatures across the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
- Increased convection or cloudiness over tropical Australia, Papua New-Guinea, and Indonesia.
- Stronger than normal (easterly) trade winds across the Pacific Ocean (but not necessarily in the Australian region).
- High (positive) values of the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index).
A La Niña event is sometimes called an anti-ENSO (anti-El Niño-Southern Oscillation) event.
Dairy State Round
|Northern - Irrigation|
Spring has been fairly dry and mild in the Northern Irrigation District. This has allowed for a reasonable hay and silage season with most of it being able to be made without any rain damage. The dry conditions have seen a lot of irrigation water being used, which has underpinned a pretty good spring for most dairy farmers. The end of spring has been warm, which should help the summer crops that have been sown get up and going, but has seen many of the late season annuals/biannuals shut up shop.
In the North-East, spring featured heavy rain events separated by long dry spells. Mild temperatures helped to alleviate the effects but flat country fared better than the hills. Milk production has generally held well. Some good quality silage was made early but quality declined quickly after mid-October, catching out many who waited in the hope of more rain. Yields were generally average or below.
In the Orbost region generally, although spring was drier than usual, wetter sub soils due to flood levels of rain this winter has resulted in pastures hanging on quite well. Around the middle of this drier spring, pasture growth was noticably slowing down because upper levels of the soil profiles had become much drier by then; luckily a timely rainfall event contributed to pasture genrally recovering from this setback. As subsoils have been moist to levels lower down in the profile, paddocks with deep-rooted plants (especially lucerne) generally faired extremely well without hiccups to growth throughout spring.
However in badly flooded areas of Orbost (as a result of heavy winter rain) recovery has varied greatly. Those who were proactive and sowed sutiable pasture mixes as soon as they could get onto paddocks, had a reasonable spring season; whilst those who were less timely with pasture rennovation, experienced a poorer season pasture-growth wise, having to buy in feed as a result.
Given the flood conditions in winter resulting in some pasture areas of severe pugging, the spring in the Bairnsdale region overall has been surprisingly good. In pastures where pugging damage early on appeared severe and the chance of full recovery unlikely, growth has recovered back to normal.
In badly damaged paddocks in the Bairnsdale district that would normally be irrigated, there was the need for clearing of dock weed and silt in time for irrigatible summer crops where possible and or preparation for autumn sowing of pasture and or crops.
|Macalister Irrigation District|
The irrigation season in Macalister Irrigtaon District started with opening allocation of 90% of High Reliability Water Shares (HRWS). Above average rainfall and good inflows to Glenmaggie Weir at the start of the season allowed MID irrigators to take advantage of Spill entitlement until the 23rd October with an estimated volume of 15,000ML being used. Further into spring drier conditions took hold, rainfall was below average and inflows into the weir reduced. As a result, irrigator usage increased three-fold. The allocation of 90% HRWS remained in place until the end of the spill entitlement window on 15 December 2012. Southern Rural Water (SRW) has announced a predictive allocation of 95% for the 2012-13 irrigation season based on current usage and storage levels. Generally, it has been a good spring for pasture growth rates and therefore fodder making for those who irrigated on time.
|East Sale: 1|
|South & West Gippsland|
Wet conditions continued well into spring in south and west Gippsland, reducing pasture growth and creating pasture damage on many farms. Pasture growth was relatively slow until well into spring. This resulted in the silage harvest being several weeks later than normal and quantities made being lower than usual. The presence of good soil moisture in late spring is good news for pasture and crop growth in early summer.
|South - Western Victoria|
Reasonable rain in September and October helped south-western Victoria have good pasture production in early spring and overall silage quality and quantity was good. Hay is currently underway with varying yields being reported as the season is slowly coming to an end. Forage crops have been sown across the region with good germinations and crops looking healthy.
Cropping State Round Up
- Mallee: Decile (1-2)
- Wimmera: Decile (1-4)
- Northern: Decile (2-5)
- South West: Decile (3-7)
- Gippsland: Decile (4)
For more information refer to: The Break Newsletter (Vol 7/ Issue 10 Dec 2012)
Seasonal Climate Outlook
Tropical Pacific remains ENSO neutral (3 January 2013)
Neutral conditions (neither El Niño nor La Niña) persist in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Climate models surveyed by the Bureau of Meteorology indicate that the tropical Pacific is likely to remain neutral at least until the southern hemisphere autumn.
SOI : Southern Oscillation Index
The Southern Oscillation Index, or SOI, gives an indication of the development and intensity of El Niño or La Niña events in the Pacific Ocean. It is calculated using the pressure differences between Tahiti and Darwin. Sustained negative values of the SOI greater than −8 often indicate El Niño episodes. Sustained positive values of the SOI greater than +8 are typical of a La Niña episode (Source: BOM - Climate Glossary).
The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has risen slightly over the past week, following the recent sharp decline, returning to neutral values. The latest (1 January) 30-day SOI value is −6.7. The SOI is expected to ease further towards zero over the coming fortnight as the influence of the tropical weather system which spawned TC Evan is removed from the 30-day average. Large fluctuations in the SOI over summer due to tropical weather systems are not uncommon (Source: BOM - ENSO).
SST: Sea Surface temperatures
The sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) is the difference between the observed SST and the climatological SST. These anomalies are calculated on a weekly basis. Positive SSTAs are usually correlated with increased regions of convection (cloudiness and rainfall) while negative SSTAs are usually correlated to reduced convection. SSTAs can be used as an indicator of the phase of global climate fluctuations, such as the El Nino/Southern Oscillation, abbreviated as ENSO.
When compared to that for the previous month, the sea-surface temperature (SST) anomaly map for November shows the focus of warm SST anomalies in the tropical Pacific Ocean has shifted westward. SSTs are slightly above average in the western half of the equatorial Pacific, while in the east anomalies have all but disappeared. The warmest anomalies remain west of the Date Line, where an area of water is more than 1 °C warmer than usual.
Warm SST anomalies also remain around Australia's northwest and western coast (Source: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/).
The data displayed in the map below is the weekly average, centred on the date shown:
The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a global-scale feature of the tropical atmosphere. The MJO is the major fluctuation in tropical weather on weekly to monthly timescales. It can be characterised as an eastward moving "pulse" of cloud and rainfall near the equator that typically recurs every 30 to 60 days. However, the signal of the MJO in the tropical atmosphere is not always present.
Taking a look at the global map of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) anomaly which represents the current minus the 1979-1998 climate average where negative values (blue/purple shading) represent above normal cloudiness while positive values (brown shading) represent below normal cloudiness, Victoria has had normal cloud cover in the last 30 days as there is no coloured shading present.
SAM: Southern Annular Mode
The Southern Annular Mode (SAM), also known as the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO), describes the north–south movement of the westerly wind belt that circles Antarctica, dominating the middle to higher latitudes of the southern hemisphere. The changing position of the westerly wind belt influences the strength and position of cold fronts and mid-latitude storm systems, and is an important driver of rainfall variability in southern Australia.
In a positive SAM event, the belt of strong westerly winds contracts towards Antarctica. This results in weaker than normal westerly winds and higher pressures over southern Australia, restricting the penetration of cold fronts inland.
Conversely, a negative SAM event reflects an expansion of the belt of strong westerly winds towards the equator. This shift in the westerly winds results in more (or stronger) storms and low pressure systems over southern Australia. During autumn and winter, a positive SAM value can mean cold fronts and storms are farther south, and hence southern Australia generally misses out on rainfall. However, in spring and summer, a strong positive SAM can mean that southern Australia is influenced by the northern half of high pressure systems, and hence there are more easterly winds bringing moist air from the Tasman Sea. This increased moisture can turn to rain as the winds hit the coast and the Great Dividing Range.
In recent years, a high positive SAM has dominated during autumn–winter, and has been a significant contributor to the 'big dry' observed in southern Australia from 1997 to 2010.
Taking a look at the observed and Global Forecast System (GFS) of the SAM (AAO) indices since 16 September 2012 and up to 3 January 2013, they have mostly been negative.
Spotlight on: Carol & Glenn Morley, Gormandale
Like a number of Victorian dairy farmers Glenn and Carol Morley endured the long drought (essentially from 1997 to 2010) with consequences. For them it was a temporary loss of the passion of dairy farming. As they put it during their interview, "we had lost that fire in our belly!". Fortunately Glenn and Carol regained this vital passion essentially with the help of a small grant from the Climate Change Adjustment Program (CCAP).
The CCAP which was part of the Australia's Farming Future Scheme closed on 30 June 2012. It assisted primary producers to manage the impacts of climate change by helping them to access farm business and management advice, while they considered their future in farming. Under the Climate Change Adjustment Program, recipients were provided with an advice and training grant of up to $5500 to receive advice and training from recognised professional advisers and registered training organisations, TAFE and universities. The grant could be used for activities such as financial assessment and planning, and advice and training directly or indirectly related to climate change impacts. In addition, the grant could be used to obtain legal, personal or succession planning advice. Recipients were also required to develop a climate change action plan, outlining the aims and steps required to manage the impacts of climate change and improve the farm's long-term prospects.
The following interview excerpts highlight Glenn and Carol's inspiring story around how they lost and regained their passion in dairy farming with the assistance of the CCAP, enough to be fully viable again with a focus on dealing with climate change well into the future.
Q: What actually caused your temporary loss of passion for dairy farming?
A: It was the combination of the long-term drought and other events (climatic and non-climatic) out of our direct control that caused us to lose this passion. The long drought for us essentially started in 1997 and didn't properly cease until the 2009/10 dairying season. We did have two good years (2000 and 2001) in there but they in retrospect comprised a green drought. Then it was very dry again until it broke in earnest in the 2009-10 dairying season, and of course the Global Financial Crisis took hold in 2007-2008. Once the long-term drought finally broke, we were hit by floods and then fire in a very short space of time.
Ironically, although climatically-wise, luck didn't go our way, the opportunities to expand the farming enterprise did. A farm we'd leased next door since 1998 with an option to buy had come up for sale, which we bought early 2010. A couple of months after we bought that farm, the other neighbour died and so we bought our third farm. Despite this financial opportunity of a lifetime however, the long drought conditions, the flood and the fires close together, working 24/7 for well over 10 years and the death of that neighbour (whose property we bought) who was a very close friend; all took their toll.
Q: How did you find out about the Climatic Change Adjustment Program (CCAP)?
A: When the fires came through in 2009, we were left without fences on two of the properties and at that time we had two workers who'd both offered to work for nothing. These elements further added to our stressful situation (as described above) and of course money was tight. Although we had the rare opportunity of neighbouring land expansion we'd lost the passion and were seriously thinking about giving dairying up.
So a week after the fires, we went to the bank to talk about our options; with leaving dairying high on our list. At this visit the bank manager suggested realistic options of both flood relief and fire relief for the first 12 months (administered through the Rural Finance Counselling Service). This led onto the revelation of finding out about the CCAP. In particular, receiving advice from a rural financial counsellor about our farm management options, gave us enough hope to try and regain that passion.
Q: What elements of the CCAP re-triggered your usual passion for dairy farming?
A: Receiving funding through the CCAP was certainly timely for us. It is a three-year program which we started in 2010 and will finish in 2013. We bought the third farm because we wanted to get big enough to employ staff and get off the farm a bit. We'd lost the passion but have now got it back due to our involvement in the CCAP (and the flood and fire relief which were for us precursors to it). In fact, we've just very recently returned from the US after spending five weeks there in the middle of our calving time; our two staff members more than adequately took care of the farm in our absence and we have got back into the farming routine in a seamless takeover.
All of the three farms have drought issues and two of them have flood and fire issues, so improving our planning and pasture management skills were an essential part of our recovery. As part of the CCAP we received a financial assessment as well as budget management advice from our accountant; with the balance of the grant being used to
- purchase "Wheresmycows", a computer mapping program
- get extensive soil testing done, and
- enrol to fully participate in the Feeding Pastures for Profit (FPFP) course
"Wheresmycows" helped hugely with our problem of getting water to stock as part of making the farms more drought resistant. Through Google Earth (not Google maps) - you can download it free on the web and then transfer it into this mapping program. It outlines your farm as both a whole and separate entities/paddocks; saving that data into relevant files that can then be translated into appropriate maps. We needed maps developed out of the "Wheresmycows" program to go with the FPFP Rotation Right tool. Also, we were able to mark on one map where the poly-pipe of our newly developed water - reticulation system is placed. Staff at the DEPI office at Maffra helped us greatly with this, which included a walk over our farms to view realistic options and showing us how to do the mapping, which we can now do competently on our own; this newfound skill has enabled us to see where all water-related issues fitted, potentially worked or didn't and the different options etc.
Our newfound knowledge in mapping and planning was part of learning about designing relevant programs to cope with climate change well into the future. This involved familiarising ourselves with ways to fix our key issue of water reticulation and reuse as an integral part of both drought proofing and working around the various environmental issues of our farms. DEPI staff helped us sort through our problems of correct placement of new water troughs to cope with increasing cow numbers and drainage placement to minimise future flood events as a result of less water laying around for long periods of time. The placement of new drains in different places for more effective drainage, resulting in less water lying around to minimise future flood events has also been a key outcome of our better planning through our improved mapping techniques that have brought all possible options together as a whole system. Also the resultant change in fence lines has given cows better access to sprays turned on at the dairy on hot days with less pugging impact as a result.
Also, as part of the funding we received through the CCAP, we booked both ourselves and our workers into the FPFP program run by the DEPI, so we would all be on the same page regarding the feeding management of our cows. The cost of soil testing was also covered as part of the CCAP; these results we used in the FPFP course.
In the 3.5 years since starting on the three programs (flood relief, fire relief and the CCAP) we have certainly re-found our passion for farming; it's the getting in touch and being connected to the right people (accountants, DEPI staff, milk factory staff, etc) for appropriate knowledge improvement that has helped us massively along the way. In order to deal with climate change and the future, "we've had to go back to school"; a huge percentage of our age group didn't go through university and get a degree and we need to know what the young ones do now. Becoming familiarised with new accounting and financial budgeting programs, succession planning, the nutritional side of things, effluent management and rules around dairy licences have been necessary skills we have enjoyed learning and finding out about. Getting this passion back has certainly helped us with our life-work balance in the context of a whole farm system; including happy and informed workers. In addition to longer holiday breaks annually, we now make sure to get off-farm mid week on a recurring basis, that way we get a break and our workers can have a regular weekend off.
Q: What will be your immediate next steps regarding planning and farm management regarding climate change?
The mapping we've done to date has helped us greatly with placement of paddocks and laneways, as well as access to water troughs and the sprinklers in the dairy to best accommodate our cows to deal with the heat. In particular, with the changing of fence lines for paddocks and laneway placement, we now not only have better access to the shade provided by trees that weren't burnt; but also justified location of shelter belts to replace those treed areas that were burnt out in the fires. As we haven't replaced burnt trees (that will not be needed for natural habitat) to date and or established newly planned tree belts, this will be our key immediate focus. Our early research in working out what trees will be best, indicates that we need short quick growing ones that provide adequate shelter in less than 5 to 6 years. So with our regained passion for dairying, we now look forward to this latest challenge in dealing with climate change.
As part of this challenge, recovery of cow numbers will be worked in. Before the drought we had 270 cows, having to get rid of 50 cows, simply because we couldn't feed them. We continued with 220 during the bulk of the drought, having built them up to our current 260. Given our improved grazing management skills as a result of both having completed the FPFP course and successfully applied the "Wheresmycows" planning elements we are confident that building them up to 300 in the next year within the context of future climate change considerations for our farm set up is sustainable.
The Season Ahead
Managing your cows this Summer (Dec 2012 - Feb 2013)
Written by: Greg O'Brien, DEPI Ellinbank and Tom Farran, DEPI Tatura
With climate models indicating that the most likely scenario for this summer is for warmer than average temperatures and average rainfall, there are a number of implications for dairy farm management.
Heat stress risk will increase, so it is timely to consider if anything needs to be put in place to get through in good shape. Heat stress is worse when combined with high humidity. As heat stress affects milk production, cow fertility, health and welfare, efforts to manage heat stress will be well rewarded. The Dairy Australia website has ideas and information on their Cool Cows web page.
Heat stress can increase cow maintenance energy requirements by 20-30% as the cow tries to keep her body temperature down. Diet has an impact on heat stress with high quality feeds (higher energy/lower fibre) generating less heat when digested than low quality feeds (low energy/high fibre). So grazing management to keep pasture and crop quality high will help, as will feeding supplements that increase the energy density of the diet (eg grain and other concentrates).
During the heat of the day, cows appetite decreases. So to try and keep the cows eating enough, so that production doesn't decline too much, then it may be necessary to milk earlier in the morning. Also things like allocating a larger proportion of pasture at night when they are more likely to spend longer periods grazing, can make a big difference. Also feeding out supplements such as hay and silage near or under shade can help encourage the cows to keep eating once it gets hot.
Then there is the ability to reduce heat stress through the provision of sprinklers at the dairy. Shade from the hot sun will also reduce the impact of heat stress. Simple things can help such as keeping paddocks with good shade for the hottest days, and using those without shade for night time feeds. If heat stress is a significant risk, there are shade structures that can be erected as a quick fix. Longer term, tree planting is worth considering, with some tree species being much better options than others (local LandCare people and fellow farmers are a good source of info on what to plant).
Water supply is very important of course, but keeping up with stock water demand during hot weather can be a challenge. Milking cows can drink 200 litres of water each on a hot day, so supply can be under pressure. Improving water supply is often one of those things that is on the "to do list" but there are always other things higher on the list. If this is the case, can I give a little nudge to elevate it up your list now we are entering the summer?
For some dairy regions (mainly Gippsland), the risk of photosensitivity outbreaks may increase, particularly if we receive moist air from the tropics that brings a run of wet and humid days. Dairy Australia conducts a spore count monitoring program over a large number of locations to alert farmers to potential risk. You can subscribe to receive an alert; go to the Dairy Australia website. Adding zinc to the diet can help with prevention, but feeding needs to start well before any disease challenge. Talk to your vet or nutritionist now if you are thinking of this as a management strategy.
Warmer temperatures will also reduce growth of temperate pastures and crops while also reducing their quality (fibre increases and energy and protein decrease). This can have implications for diet quality and diet balance. For example you might need to add more protein into the supplements being fed, depending on the amount of green feed in the diet, etc.
The impact of hotter weather on pasture and crop growth may see the need for more supplements to be fed this summer on some farms. If silage reserves are on the light side, feed planning now may save a lot of stress later. Will you leave some cash in reserve for boosting pasture growth with fertiliser during autumn/winter? Will you look for some milker quality supplements at a favourable price now, or maybe wait until later when the price may change? After all, a good autumn/winter might get you through without the need for extra purchases. On the other hand it may result in a deeper hole to dig out of. Forward planning is wise, even if it needs to be modified as time goes by.
For some farms, bush fire risk may be an issue. Perhaps a summer crop near the house/dairy may act as a fire break as well as a source of feed. Millet and rape mix could be an option or perhaps sorghum hybrids provided moisture (soil moisture, effluent or irrigation) is likely to be adequate for a reasonable yield.
The Summer Back Page
Newsflash - More grants available to help develop carbon farming
In case you missed it - Here's a modified version of a news item in the Weekly Times Nov 19 2012).
The second round of competitive grants for the $201 million Filling the Research Gap program has been announced. Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, made the announcement during a recent visit to Queensland University of Technology to meet researchers undertaking work funded by the first round of the program.
"Up to $50 million in competitive grants are available under the latest round of the program," Senator Ludwig said. "More research is needed to unlock new opportunities for farmers and other land managers to participate in the Carbon Farming Initiative. With the right knowhow, those on the land can earn a second income through carbon credits, generated by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and storing carbon in the landscape. Filling the Research Gap will provide eligible Australian research organisations with funding to address specific knowledge gaps. This will support the development of offset methodologies under the Carbon Farming Initiative, and provide more ways for farmers and land holders to get involved."
The second round of Filling the Research Gap will fund research that improves the ability of Australian agriculture to adapt to a changing climate, counteract its negative effects, and grasp new opportunities through the development of adaptation choices and technologies.
"We have already seen outstanding contributions to climate research in Australia through the Climate Change Research Program, and projects under the first round of Filling the Research Gap are beginning to build on these efforts," Senator Ludwig said. "For example, early research findings in relation to nitrous oxide emissions, livestock methane emissions and biochar give more validity to claims that significant reductions in agricultural emissions can be achieved without adverse impacts on productivity".
Filling the Research Gap is an ongoing program that is investing in priority research over six years from 2011-12 to 2016-17. Applications for the second round of funding close on Wednesday January 23, 2013. To find out more about eligibility and how to apply, visit agriculture.gov.au/ftrg.
Warmer days and nights in the tropical north
National Seasonal Temperature Outlook: probabilities for January to March 2013, issued 19th December 2012
The national outlook averaged over January to March 2013 shows that:
- warmer days are more likely over northern and most of eastern Australia
- warmer nights are more likely over northern and western Australia, with cooler nights favoured over parts of the southeast
This outlook is a result of warmer than normal waters persisting in the Indian Ocean, with warmer than normal tropical Pacific waters having less of an impact.
A drier season favoured for parts of eastern Australia
National Seasonal Rainfall Outlook: probabilities for January to March 2013, issued 19th December 2012
The national outlook for January to March 2013 indicates that a drier than normal season is more likely for parts of eastern Australia
This outlook is a result of warmer than normal waters in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Australian CliMate is a suite of climate analysis tools for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. The app allows you to interrogate climate records (over the last 60 yrs) to ask a number of questions relating to rainfall, temperature, radiation, as well as derived variables such as heat sums, soil water and soil nitrate. It is designed for decision makers who use past climate statistics, forecasts and knowledge of system status (e.g. soil water, heat sum) to better manage their business. CliMate has a number of analyses structured around the following questions:
- How often? What is the chance of a rainfall event based on 'x' amount of rainfall over 'y' days? How often is a heat sum achieved in a set period of time? What is the probability of temperature being above or below a critical level? E.g. for germination or flowering
- How hot-cold? When planning for an optimum temperature regime, when are heat and cold stresses lowest? e.g. crop flowering
- Season's progress? When adjusting inputs during a crop or pasture season, how does the current season compare with previous conditions in terms of rainfall, temperature, heat sum or radiation?
- How wet? N? How much water and nitrate have I stored over the fallow? This may help me adjust inputs to better match yield expectations.
- How likely? Based on current ENSO conditions, what is the probability that rainfall or temperature is greater than or less than key thresholds (e.g. terciles, median) and how reliable have these forecasts been in the past?
- How's El Nino? What is the current ENSO status based on key atmospheric and oceanic indicators? What is the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's interpretation of this?
- How's the Past? Presents graphical views of monthly and annual rainfall, temperature and radiation to explore historic patterns.