Brittleness

Brittleness is one of the four key insights that underpin the entire process of managing holistically.

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Brittleness is a measure of the evenness of spread of atmospheric humidity throughout the year.  It is measured on a continuum from 1 to 10, where:
  • 1 is a true rainforest - the environment is humid every day of the year
  • 10 is a true desert - the environment is dry every day of the year
Because these are the extremes, we can reason that all other environments lie between them - ie somewhere between 1 and 10 on the scale.  Closer to 1 it is mostly humid, and closer to 10 it is mostly dry, with short periods of atmospheric humidity.

Click here to see how brittleness effects management actions.


Brittleness is not to do with the amount of rainfall, but with it’s annual distribution or seasonality
 
The two images below show the principle.  The left hand image is the rainfall distribution at Kiama, New South Wales.  The median rainfall is 1,159.7 mm per year, and you will notice that it is quite evenly distributed.  Kiama is an example of a non-brittle tending environment.

The right hand image is the rainfall distribution at Weipa, Queensland, which is located at the tip of Cape York in Qld. Here the median rainfall is 52% greater than at Kiama, however for half of each year the rainfall is at or close to zero each month.  Weipa is an example of a very brittle tending environment, where atmospheric humidity and therefore rainfall distribution, is seasonal.

Graphs sourced from Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology 



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