A UNIVERSITY of New England professor believes he's cracked the code to predicting droughts and is travelling around the region teaching farmers his method.
Robert Baker's research shows the nation's weather, particularly droughts, is strongly influenced by the flipping of the sun's magnetic field, which happens every 22 years. In 2007, he predicted an intense drought in the early 2020s.
"Well, this is it," he said.
"I was a little premature. Looking back, my research has progressed significantly since then."
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He's been sharing his work with farmers in Armidale, Walcha and Barraba, and he's heading to Narrabri and Coonamble next week.
"So far, there's been standing room only - we had more than 100 people at Barraba," he said.
For almost 15 years, Dr Robert has been studying the phenomenon. His work wasn't taken seriously a decade ago, but it's gaining traction.
"All 22 El Nino events since 1900 fit into the flipping of the sun's magnetic field," he said.
"So we can predict the pattern. It is the DNA structure of drought if you like. It's not random, they follow a pattern.
"Right now, this very much follows the pattern we were going through a century ago, during the Federation Drought period."
Dr Robert said it was still too early to be sure, but "we could be entering a period between flips", which is characterised by up to 12 months of scattered showers - "some places getting a good rainfall, while towns next door miss out".
"What's happening now is encouraging, even though not all that much," he said.
While there could be some small relief in the next 12 months, Dr Baker said there was still the potential for drought conditions for another two years.
"It is a cycle and all cycles come to an end," he said.
"When I tell farmers that, you can see it's a big relief and weight off their shoulders."
Dr Baker said he's giving farmers a "toolbox" to make long-term predictions based on his research, which includes using the surface temperature of the ocean and air pressure measurements.
"The toolbox allows farmers to look at key things that will help them make big decisions," he said.
"If the government and politicians dismiss this, the commercial interests are going to take it."
Dr Baker will be at the Narrabri RSL on Tuesday, September 24, at 5.30pm and at Coonamble Bowling Club the following day at 5pm.