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Weather study embraces Indigenous knowledge

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 6 November 2003


A university project is using Indigenous knowledge to record historical weather patterns in an effort to improve forecasts.

Victorian Monash University spokesman Professor Nigel Tapper says he first thought of the concept after working on the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Professor Tapper says many Indigenous people have thousands of years of weather knowledge that has been passed down orally.

He says one example of how it can improve weather forecasts is the study of thunderstorm activity on the Tiwi Islands.

"We were using fairly modern scientific approaches to the study of these thunderstorms but the locals said 'look, we know when there's going to be big thunderstorms, big thunderstorms occur in the middle of the day when we have high tides' and we thought, 'oh yes, well that's interesting' and just put it to one side," Professor Tapper said.

"But sure enough later on when we'd done our analysis, we realised that they were actually talking some sense."


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