Forewarned is Forearmed (FWFA)
Equipping farmers and agricultural value chains to proactively manage the impacts of extreme climate events


Australian farmers and agribusiness operate in one of the most variable climates of any country in the world, with extreme events and climate variability the largest drivers of fluctuations in annual agricultural income and production.

This five year (2017-2022) national project will undertake research and forecast product development to deliver a state-of-the-art forecasting service for extreme climate events. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) will conduct research to deliver forecasts of the likelihood of climate extremes on multi-week and seasonal timescales – beyond the traditional seven-day weather forecast. It will provide farmers with the first ever forecasts of extreme climate events weeks to seasons ahead.

Project outline

The project will include research, product development and extension teams, representing a range of industries, working directly with farmers and farm consultants, to interface the forecasts with agricultural decisions, develop risk management strategies to proactively prepare for these events, as well as extending project outputs to farmers and advisors.

This project will deliver direct value to farmers through improving the forecast of extremes (e.g. extreme high or low rainfall, heat, cold and frost) equipping farmers with the information and tools to be forewarned and proactively prepared. It will provide farmers with the first ever forecasts of extreme climate events weeks to seasons ahead, with the aim of decreasing their impacts on farm and industry profit.

The University of Melbourne (UOM) is conducting research to deliver an extreme event risk management framework for the dairy and southern red-meat industries. This will be achieved through a structured process of consultation with an industry-specific reference group, who will:

    a) identify the extreme event risks of consequence to their industry,
    b) identify a number of appropriate response scenarios to each identified extreme event and
    c) provide feedback to the BOM on the products produced.

The schematic below summarises the full project structure. The UOM research delivery is focused on Modules 3 and 4.

Project Output - New Forecast tools

Example map chance of rainfall extremesChance of Climate Extremes Forecast now available (launched 1 November 2021).   The 'chance of extreme' maps and pop-up bar charts used in these outlooks refer to the top / bottom 20% of historical observations and are available for across the Australian region and are accessed via the left-hand menu on the climate outlooks interface, under the rainfall, maximum and minimum temperature sub-headings.

FWFA project publications

Click here to view bibliographic survey of publications and recordings produced by the FWFA project partners.

FWFA videos and webinar recordings

Forewarned is forearmed: An agricultural scientist's view on FWFA products to help manage a La Niña summer.

Forewarned is Forearmed - Information Workshop 15 November 2022.
Dr Peter Hayman (SARDI) provides information about new climate forecasting products developed as part of the government-funded and industry-led ‘ForeWarned is ForeArmed’ project (FWFA). The products include forecasts of the chances of the driest or wettest, coldest and warmest two deciles, presented in a range of maps and location-based charts and graphs. He also provides guidance on how to use these and other forecasts to improve user confidence. Following Peter's presentation he is joined by Dr Andrew Watkins (Head of long range forecasting at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology) for a discussion and Q&A session. This session was recorded live on 15 November 2022 and was facilitated by Russell Pattinson (The FWFA Project National Coordinator).

Forewarned is forearmed: Outlooks and new features on the Bureau of Meteorology's website 2022.

This webinar explores the final three of five new tools developed and released as part of the Forewarned is Forearmed project, a partnership of government, research and industry sectors funded through the Australian Government's Rural R&D For-Profit Program. The new features respond to the growing need for information around unseasonal and extreme weather and climate events to build climate resilience and support better-informed decision making. Dale Grey (Agronomist advisor and climate specialist for Agriculture Victoria) joins the Bureau of Meteorology's Dr Andrew Watkins (Head of Long Range Forecasts) and Avijeet Ramchurn (Senior Climatologist) to present and answer questions about the Forewarned is Forearmed outlooks and the new features. Facilitated by Russell Pattinson, National Coordinator of the Forewarned is Forearmed (FWFA) the session was recorded live on 14/07/2022.

Forewarned is forearmed: Outlooks and new features on the Bureau of Meteorology's website.

The first two tools released from the FWFA project enable users to view the chance of unseasonal and extreme temperature and rainfall for the weeks, months, and seasons ahead in their location. The Bureau's Head of Operational Climate Services, Dr Andrew Watkins, is joined by Senior Climatologist Avijeet Ramchurn and Agriculture Victoria's Agronomist Advisor, Dale Grey, to present and answer questions about the new products. The session was facilitated by Prof Richard Eckard, Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre (PICCC), University of Melbourne and recorded live on 08/11/2021.
A pdf of the PowerPoint slide pack is available here.

Forewarned is forearmed: Project update, CoP, extension and partner panel.

Kate Finger (BCG), Dale Grey and Graeme Anderson (AgVic) and Russell Pattinson (National Coordinator FWFA) provide an overview of the project's Work Package 4 activities: CoP and extension with an update of the overall FWFA project from Russell Pattinson. Following the short presentations, the Q&A panel includes discussion with FWFA Partners from Work Packages 1&2, Dr's Debbie Hudson and Harry Hendon (BoM) and Work Package 3, Dr Peter Hayman (SARDI) and Prof Richard Eckard (UoM) in this live webinar recording of 10/12/2020.

Managing extreme events in the southern Australian grazing industries.

Richard Eckard, Professor of Livestock Systems and Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, University of Melbourne explores case study work undertaken as part of the FWFA project to consider industry reference group identified extreme event scenarios in a southern grazing system in this live webinar recording of 20/10/2020.

Understanding forecasts and on-farm management of climate and variability.

Graeme Anderson, Climate Specialist, Agriculture Victoria shares insights from his multiple engagements (via FWFA and related projects) with rural communities along the modern forecast output spectrum on understanding weather forecasts, seasonal outlooks & climate change projections in this live webinar recording of 23/9/2020.

Climate risk in the grains and wine grape industry – frameworks to support the discussion between climate science and growers?

Dr Peter Hayman Principal Scientist, Climate Applications, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), leader of FWFA Work Package 3 Grains and Wine Grapes industries project component and Barry Mudge, farmer and private consultant from Port Germein, SA, give an overview of Decision Analysis frameworks linking improvements in forecasts to on-farm decision making. Barry Mudge provides examples of his own decision making on a grain farm and Peter Hayman discusses a crop protection example from viticulture in this live webinar recording of 20/8/2020.

Past rainfall changes over Australia and implications for agriculture

Dr Katharina Waha, Senior Research Scientist at CSIRO, leader of the MCV funded research project presents findings on past and future rainfall changes over Australia and implications for agriculture in this live webinar recording of 28/7/2020.

Overview of the Managing Climate Variability R&D Program and Extreme Events Forecasting

Doug McNicholl, Sustainability Manager from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) provides an overview of the long-standing cross-sectoral MCV Program and introduces the Forewarned is Forearmed (FWFA) Rural R&D for Profit Project in this live webinar recording of 25/6/2020.

Forewarned is Forearmed Project - Forecasting - The Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Drs Debbie Hudson and Harry Hendon from the Bureau of Meteorology update progress across Work Packages 1 - "User needs and forecast development" and 2 - "Extreme forecasts development and delivery" in this live webinar recording of 17/2/2020.

Related resources

BoM FWFA Project page
Heat stress impacts and responses in livestock production Meyer, R.S., Graham, A-M, Eckard R.J. (2018) Heat stress impacts and responses in livestock production. Reducing Heat Stress, AGBU Breeding Focus 2018 (Chapter 4).
Heat Stress and Milk Production: a literature review and analysis of eastern Australian Data Webinar AgVIc (DJPR) Use password to access: Heatstress19.
Impacts of heatwaves on dairy production Meyer, R.S.
Impacts of heatwaves on pastures Meyer, R.S.

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program in partnership with rural Research and Development Corporations, commercial companies, state departments and universities. Meat &Livestock Australia (MLA) is responsible for the overall management of the project.