Articles | Volume 16, issue 7
Research article
12 Jul 2012
Research article |  | 12 Jul 2012

Understanding hydroclimate processes in the Murray-Darling Basin for natural resources management

A. J. E. Gallant, A. S. Kiem, D. C. Verdon-Kidd, R. C. Stone, and D. J. Karoly

Abstract. Isolating the causes of extreme variations or changes in the hydroclimate is difficult due to the complexities of the driving mechanisms, but it is crucial for effective natural resource management. In Australia's Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), ocean-atmosphere processes causing hydroclimatic variations occur on time scales from days to centuries, all are important, and none are likely to act in isolation. Instead, interactions between all hydroclimatic drivers, on multiple time scales, are likely to have caused the variations observed in MDB instrumental records. A simplified framework is presented to assist natural resource managers in identifying the potential causes of hydroclimatic anomalies. The framework condenses an event into its fundamental elements, including its spatial and temporal signal and small-scale evolution. The climatic processes that are potentially responsible are then examined to determine possible causes. The framework was applied to a period of prolonged and severe dry conditions occurring in the southern MDB from 1997–2010, providing insights into possible causal mechanisms that are consistent with recent studies. The framework also assists in identifying uncertainties and gaps in our understanding that need to be addressed.