Episodic recharge and climate change in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia

Russell Crosbie, James McCallum, Glen Walker, Francis Chiew

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    54 Citations (Scopus)


    In semi-arid areas, episodic recharge can form a significant part of overall recharge, dependant upon infrequent rainfall events. With climate change projections suggesting changes in future rainfall magnitude and intensity, groundwater recharge in semi-arid areas is likely to be affected disproportionately by climate change. This study sought to investigate projected changes in episodic recharge in arid areas of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia, using three global warming scenarios from 15 different global climate models (GCMs) for a 2030 climate. Two metrics were used to investigate episodic recharge: at the annual scale the coefficient of variation was used, and at the daily scale the proportion of recharge in the highest 1% of daily recharge. The metrics were proportional to each other but were inconclusive as to whether episodic recharge was to increase or decrease in this environment; this is not a surprising result considering the spread in recharge projections from the 45 scenarios. The results showed that the change in the low probability of exceedance rainfall events was a better predictor of the change in total recharge than the change in total rainfall, which has implications for the selection of GCMs used in impact studies and the way GCM results are downscaled.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)245-261
    Number of pages17
    JournalHydrogeology Journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


    • Australia
    • Climate change
    • Groundwater recharge/water budget
    • Murray-Darling Basin
    • Waves


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