Impacts of future climate change on water resource availability of eastern Australia: A case study of the Manning River basin

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Hydrology, 2019, 573 pp. 49 - 59
Issue Date:
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© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Hydrological responses of catchments to climate change require detailed examination to ensure sustainable management of both water resources and natural ecosystems. This study evaluated the impacts of climate change on water resource availability of a catchment in eastern Australia (i.e. the Manning River catchment) and analyzed climate-hydrology relationships. For this evaluation, the Xinanjiang (XAJ) model was used and validated to simulate monthly rainfall-runoff relationships of the catchment. Statistically downscaled climate data based on 28 global climate models (GCMs) under RCP8.5 scenarios were used to assess the impacts of climate changes on the Manning River catchment. Our results showed that the XAJ model was able to reproduce observed monthly rainfall-runoff relationships with an R 2 ≥ 0.94 and a Nash-Sutcliffe Efficiency ≥0.92. The median estimates from the ensemble of downscaled GCM projections showed a slight decrease in annual rainfall and runoff for the period 2021–2060 and an increase for the period 2061–2100. Annual actual evapotranspiration was projected to increase slightly, while annual soil moisture content was predicted to decrease in the future. Our results also demonstrated that future changes in seasonal and annual runoff, actual evapotranspiration and soil moisture are largely dominated by changes in rainfall, with a smaller influence arising from changes in temperature. An increase in the values of high runoffs and a decrease in the values of low runoffs predicted from the ensemble of the 28 GCMs suggest increased variability of water resources at monthly and seasonal time-scales in the future. A trend of decreasing values in winter runoff and soil moisture content in the future is likely to aggravate possible future reductions in water availability in eastern Australia. These results contribute to the development of adaptive strategies and future policy options for the sustainable management of water resources in eastern Australia.
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