A map showing the regions of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Murray-Darling Basin regions.

Investigating models used for climate impact studies

CSIRO researchers have evaluated the effectiveness of using historical data to accurately estimate future water availability.

  • 27 July 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011

Challenge

This study aimed to provide a firmer basis for understanding the potential climate change impacts on future water availability in south-eastern Australia.

Response

Researchers used four rainfall-runoff models and historical records from 61 catchments in south-eastern Australia to investigate the feasibility of using hydrological models.

This study is part of ongoing research aimed at assessing the potential impact of climate change on hydrology and water resources.

The models were calibrated against past climate and streamflow records to reliably predict future runoff responses to climate change.

Outcome

The results indicated that hydrological models calibrated with more than 20 years of data can generally be used for climate impact studies if the difference between the mean annual rainfalls in the future period and the calibration period is less than 15 per cent.

It is generally more difficult for a model calibrated over a wet period to predict runoff over a dry period compared to a model calibrated over a dry period to predict runoff over a wet period.

This study is part of ongoing research aimed at assessing the potential impact of climate change on hydrology and water resources.

Read more about Water research.