Linking water-resource models to ecosystem-response models to guide water-resource planning - an example from the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia

Rebecca Lester, Ian Webster, Peter Fairweather, William Young

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    30 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objectively assessing ecological benefits of competing watering strategies is difficult. We present a framework of coupled models to compare scenarios, using the Coorong, the estuary for the MurrayDarling River system in South Australia, as a case study. The framework links outputs from recent modelling of the effects of climate change on water availability across the MurrayDarling Basin to a hydrodynamic model for the Coorong, and then an ecosystem-response model. The approach has significant advantages, including the following: (1) evaluating management actions is straightforward because of relatively tight coupling between impacts on hydrology and ecology; (2) scenarios of 111 years reveal the impacts of realistic climatic and flow variability on Coorong ecology; and (3) ecological impact is represented in the model by a series of ecosystem states, integrating across many organisms, not just iconic species. We applied the approach to four flow scenarios, comparing conditions without development, current water-use levels, and two predicted future climate scenarios. Simulation produced a range of hydrodynamic conditions and consequent distributions of ecosystem states, allowing managers to compare scenarios. This approach could be used with many climates and/or management actions for optimisation of flow delivery to environmental assets.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)279-289
    Number of pages11
    JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
    Volume62
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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