This situation is likely to be the new normal as already evident in parts of southern Australia. However, it is not the changes in the mean rainfall that are primary concern to water supply. Most of volume filling reservoirs actually comes from heavy rainfall events, and these are increasing due to climate change. So why are our storages lower?
As a result of warmer temperatures, and the duration between rainfall events becoming longer, soils are drier before it rains, so, when it does finally rain, less runoff occurs. Studies which investigate changes to water supply generally only take into account changes in mean precipitation and do not consider the impact of drying soils. However, drying soils are likely to be the largest modifying factor to the runoff that fills our reservoir systems, and further, their modifying effect is a function of the catchment area.
This PhD project would assess water supply storage as a function of climatic change across Australia using a systematic method which accounts for changes in not just mean rainfall, but also change in extreme rainfall, the duration between rainfall events, and the changing seasonality of rainfall. Stochastically simulated rainfall for a warmer climate would be used to model water supply reservoir systems across Australia to build a comprehensive understanding of how climate change will affect water supply. The results of this PhD would identify those water supplies which are at most risk due to climatic change allowing future augmentation to be prioritized.
University: University of Melbourne
Supervisor: Conrad Wasko
Please contact Research Capability Manager Carolyn bellamy for further project and student information, or refer to the sponsorship page for 'The Process' document.
Carolyn Bellamy | Research Capability Manager
$39,000 over three years
30th Jun, 2020