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Trajectory river modelling – a decision-support tool to help manage multiple risks associated with planning around variable water resources

Mat Gilfedder A E , Geoff Podger B , David W. Rassam A , Dan Pagendam C and Catherine J. Robinson D

A CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship, CSIRO Land and Water, PO Box 2583, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.
B CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship, CSIRO Land and Water, GPO Box 1666, Canberra 2601, Australia.
C CSIRO Computational Informatics, PO Box 2583, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.
D CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, PO Box 2583, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.
E Corresponding author. Email: Mat.Gilfedder@csiro.au

Marine and Freshwater Research - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF14002
Submitted: 6 January 2014  Accepted: 26 March 2014   Published online: 1 October 2014


 
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Abstract

The application of river-system models to inform water-resource planning and management is a growing global phenomenon. This requires models to be applied so that they are useful to water decision makers charged with setting targets that provide adequate water flows to sustain landholders and communities. This article examines why and how the innovative application of river-system models can facilitate interactions between water science and water management in Australia’s Murray–Darling Basin (the Basin). A trajectory river-modelling method was applied to run multiple short historical climate sequences through a river-system model to provide historical probabilities. These can allow better assessment of the risks and impacts associated with stream flow and water availability. This method allows known historical variability to be presented, and produces relevant results for a 10–15-year water-sharing plan lifetime. The benefits were demonstrated in the Basin’s Lachlan Catchment where modelled river-flow results demonstrated the increased variability between shorter 15-year sequences than for a single 114-year run. This approach highlighted the benefits of expressing modelling results as historical probabilities to inform short-term and strategic water-planning efforts.

Additional keywords: historical probabilities, hydrology, Lachlan catchment, Murray–Darling, surface water, variability, water management.


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