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Experts look to Australia's Aborigines for weather help

Source:  Copyright 2003, Reuters
Date:  March 19, 2003
Original URL: Status ONLINE


SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) -- When the bearded dragon lizard sits upright and points its head to the sky, it is going to rain the next day. If a flock of currawongs flies overhead you've only got four hours to get the washing off the line.

If the queen wattle blooms heavily, bull ants abandon their tree nests for mounds of dirt, or meat ants cover nests with tiny, heat-reflecting quartz stones, then bushfires are coming.

Sounds like mumbo-jumbo?

Not to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, which hopes to tap into the tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal weather knowledge to help it expand its understanding of the island continent's harsh climate.

Aboriginal ideas about the weather can be starkly different.

Unlike the conventional European notion of four seasons -- summer, autumn, winter and spring -- Aborigines in different parts of Australia count as little as two or as many as six, ...

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