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Planning urban water system responses to megadrought
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-22, 05:54 authored by Verdon-Kidd, D, Beatty, R, Kathryn AllenKathryn Allen
Drought, the ‘creeping catastrophe’, has been a recurrent feature of many parts of southern and eastern Australia over the last three decades. Yet, Australia is no stranger to prolonged drought periods, with the 1930s-40s period and the turn of the 20th century also characterised by widespread drought. Indeed, each drought experience has provided water managers the opportunity to update and implement new drought management strategies. However, the length of the instrumental record (∼120 years at best) is inadequate to understand the full extent of drought risk in Australia and the question remains: are we actually planning for the worst drought possible? This deficiency can be somewhat overcome by using palaeoclimate archives of climate to extend the instrumental record. Importantly, such archives have revealed that climatologically similar regions to Australia have experienced megadroughts in the past (reduced rainfall periods lasting 20 years or more). However, the emerging risk of megadrought is yet to be quantified for our region. In response, this paper highlights how various palaeoclimate sources (in particular tree rings) can be used to update drought risk profiles and inform planning frameworks for drought response. We further emphasise that revised planning frameworks are required to examine the risks and options for mitigating those risks.
Publication titleWater e-Journal
Department/SchoolSchool of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences
PublisherAustralian Water Association
Place of publicationAustralia