Outcomes from our science are used by governments and industry to guide water resource planning, investment and management.
Climate Impacts on Water
The Climate Impacts on Water team carries out research to predict climate variability and climate change impacts on streamflow characteristics and water availability.
Climate change is a global issue and it affects hydrological processes over a range of time scales. The management of water resources aims to minimise risks associated with climate change and variability. The management challenges in Australia are compounded by Australian river flows being more variable than elsewhere in the world.
Southern Australia has been in a prolonged drought, which has placed immense pressure on the limited water resources in the region. The majority of climate models also project a drier future for southern Australia punctuated by more intense rainfall events. On a global scale, climate change is seen as one of the biggest threats to water security.
The majority of climate models project a drier future for southern Australia.
The majority of climate models also project a drier future for southern Australia. On a global scale, climate change is seen as one of the biggest threats to water security.
We carry out research to characterise hydroclimatic variability over different time scales and to predict climate variability and climate change impact on streamflow characteristics and water availability. Our research will assist government and industry to guide water resource planning, investment and management.
Our research areas include:
- characterising and modelling hydroclimatic variability over different time scales
- quantifying hydrologic sensitivity to climate (rainfall-temperature-runoff relationship)
- modelling climate impacts on hydrology and water availability
- global climate model assessment and selection for hydrological applications
- statistical and dynamic downscaling for hydrological applications
- hydroclimatic non-stationarity and changes in dominant hydrological processes
- improving hydrological models for climate change impact studies.
Our research is delivered mainly through CSIRO's Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship.
We develop national partnerships where the research outcomes and modelling tools have a clear market, and governments and industry use them to guide water resource planning and management.
Some examples of national research initiatives where we play a key role are listed below:
- Research in major national climate-water initiatives to investigate the causes, impacts and prediction of hydroclimate variability and change, like the South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative (SEACI), the Indian Ocean Climate Initiative (IOCI) and the Australian Climate Change Science Program (ACCSP).
- Estimation of future water availability to guide water resource planning and management in key regions of Australia in the CSIRO Sustainable Yields projects in the Murray-Darling Basin, northern Australia, south-west Western Australia and Tasmania.
- Development of modelling tools for the water industry – SCL (Stochastic Climate Library), TREND (trend detection software), NSFM (non-parametric seasonal forecasting model)
- Estimation of climate change impact on groundwater resources funded by the National Water Commission
- Understanding of climatic change impact on plant physiological and catchment ecohydrological processes funded by the Murray Darling Basin Authority
- Development of water use scenarios with particular focus on freshwater biodiversity in collaboration with National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.
Key staff include:
Chiew FHS, Kirono DGC, Kent DM, Frost AJ, Charles SP, Timbal B, Nguyen KC and Fu G. 2010. Comparison of runoff modelled using rainfall from different downscaling methods for historical and future climates. Journal of Hydrology. 387: 10–23. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.03.025.
Chiew FHS, Teng J, Vaze J and Kirono DGC. 2009. Influence of global climate model selection on runoff impact assessment. Journal of Hydrology. 379: 172–180. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.10.004.
Chiew FHS, Teng J, Vaze J, Post DA, Perraud JM, Kirono DGC and Viney NR. 2009. Estimating climate change impact on runoff across south-east Australia: method, results and implications of modelling method. Water Resources Research. 45: W104140. doi:10.1029/2008WR007338.
Ekstrom M, Jones PD, Fowler HJ, Lenderink G, Buishand TA and Conway D. 2007. Regional climate model data used within the SWURVE project 2: addressing uncertainty in regional climate model for five European case study areas. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Special Issue. 1069–1084.
Ekstrom M, Kyriakidis PC, Chappell A and Jones PD. 2007. Spatiotemporal stochastic simulation of monthly rainfall patterns in the United Kingdom (1980–87). Journal of Climate. 20: 4194–4210.
Fu G, Charles SP and Chiew FHS. 2007. A two-parameter climate elasticity of streamflow index to assess climate change effects on annual streamflow. Water Resources Research. 43: W11419. doi:10.1029/2007WR005890.
Fu G, Viney NR and Charles SP. 2010. Evaluation of various root transformations of daily precipitation amounts fitted with a normal distribution for Australia, Theoretical and Applied Climatology. 99: 229–238.
Fu GM, Charles SP and Yu JJ. 2009. A critical overview of pan evaporation trends over the last 50 years. Climatic Change. 93: 193–214.
Fu G, Viney NR, Charles SP and Liu J. 2010. Long-term temporal variation of extreme rainfall events in Australia: 1910–2006. Journal of Hydrometeorology. doi:10/1175/2010JHM1204.1.
Mpelasoka FS and Chiew FHS. 2009. Influence of rainfall scenario construction methods on runoff projections. Journal of Hydrometeorology. 10: 1168–1183.
Potter NJ, Chiew FHS and Frost AJ. 2010. An assessment of the severity of recent reductions in rainfall and runoff in the Murray-Darling Basin. Journal of Hydrology. 381: 52–64. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.11.025.
Potter NJ & Zhang L. 2009. Interannual variability of catchment water balance in Australia, Journal of Hydrology. 369, 1-2: 120-129. doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.02.005.
Vaze J, Post DA, Chiew FHS, Perraud JM, Viney N, Teng J. 2010. Climate nonstationarity - Validity of calibrated rainfall-runoff models for use in climate change studies. Journal of Hydrology. 394: 447–457. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.09.018.
Vaze J and Teng J. 2011. Future climate and runoff projections across New South Wales, Australia – results and practical applications, Hydrological Process. 25: 18–35. doi: 10.1002/hyp.7812.
Vaze J, Teng J, and Chiew FHS. 2011. Assessment of GCM simulation of annual, seasonal and daily rainfall across southeast Australia and implications in impact modelling, Hydrological Processes. doi: 10.1002/hyp.7916.