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Craig Shephard

Craig Shephard

Senior Researcher (BSc) Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre (AARSC), University of New England

Cyclones, Floods and Fires: Spatial and temporal tools that are supporting many Australian horticultural and agricultural industries to be better prepared and respond to severe weather events and natural disasters.

With many of Australia’s most lucrative crops concentrated in small geographical regions, the impact of a single severe weather event—for example tropical cyclones, thunderstorms, hazardous winds and hail can be significant. The University of New England’s Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre (AARSC) have worked with many agricultural sectors over the years developing spatial and temporal tools that support preparedness, response and recovery to severe weather events. The Australian Tree Crop Map (ATCM), Protected Cropping Map Dashboard and Queensland Soybean Dashboard map identify the extent (location and area) of all commercial crops & structures relevant to the many participating industries across Australia.

This AARSC presentation will demonstrate the power of spatial information to support decision-making for industry and growers, in the freely available Severe Weather App. The application includes all commercial avocado, mango, macadamia, citrus, olive, banana, truffles and authoritative weather data sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology—including tropical cyclones and severe thunderstorms (hail). Updated in near-real time, the application supports industry with understanding potential impacts from severe weather events and where to prioritise recovery assistance for growers.

Additionally, the application includes mapping for historic events, including area metrics for potential impacts summarised for each tree crop. Additionally, overlaying flood (inundation extent) and bushfire (burnt area extent) mapping supports industry for impact assessments (where to prioritise their recovery) and revision of crop forecasts. Other examples in the application of remote sensing techniques for measuring crop damage and yield forecasting (using ‘time-series’ based algorithms) have enabled industries such as sugar to rapidly adjust regional forecasts post natural disaster e.g. following TC Debbie.

Authors: Craig Shephard, Prof Andrew Robson, Dr Andrew Clark, Abbie Rankin, R. Blake Morrison.

About Craig:

Craig Shephard has over 25 years professional experience in the mapping of landscape attributes - particularly land cover and land use. Craig holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in Environmental Science and Geography from Macquarie University, and is particularly focused on the application of web-based Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. Specialising in the Esri platform, Craig applies a range of location-based tools to capture spatial data, analyse and compile mapping products and deliver spatial information via an ever growing range of web applications. A selection of these can be launched from the AARSC Industry Applications and Maps page.