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Disasters. 1984 Jun;8(2):89-104. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7717.1984.tb00858.x.

The great Australian drought: 1982-1983*.

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  • 148, The Ridge Blackburn Victoria 3130 Australia.


The development of drought over eastern Australia from April 1982 to February 1983 is described. National wheat production for the 1982-1983 season was 63 per cent of the average for the previous five years, while for New South Wales and Victoria production was 29 and 16 per cent respectively. Production of other grains was similarly reduced. Net value of rural production was reduced from over $4,000 million to $2,300 million nationally, the percentage reduction being much larger in drought-affected States. Methods of assessing drought severity are discussed and it is concluded that the 1982-1983 drought must be regarded as one of the most severe in the last 100 years. Impact of drought is also discussed, including that on wheat production and sheep and cattle populations since 1885. It is suggested that the limits of grain growing areas, and of sheep and cattle populations, beyond which environmental degradation may occur, have been exceeded during that period. The view is expressed that more attention should be given to the development of strategies to ameliorate drought impacts.

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