01 Nov Carmel Pollino
Principal Research Scientist from CSIRO.
Land and water resource developments have the potential to modify rivers, floodplains, estuaries and coastal waters, changing habitats and ecological processes, which support native flora and fauna. Northern Australia has extensive diverse and largely unmodified aquatic ecosystems, which provide cultural, recreational and commercial value, as well as maintaining ecological functions and habitats for plants and animals. Northern Australia catchment supports a diversity of plants and animals that are fundamentally adapted to the seasonal wet-dry climate. The Northern Australia White Paper proposes that potential developments for securing water supplies should safeguard natural environment.
The Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment is exploring potential future developments in Northern Australia, exploring opportunities, risks and enablers. One aspect of the project is assessing the risks of potential developments to aquatic ecosystems. In this presentation, we will introduce a body of work in aquatic ecology, focussing on inland/freshwater systems and estuarine/coastal system. The work undertaken develops a series of products to underpin: an understanding of key assets that are sensitive to change from water resource development; building of a knowledge base of the understanding of assets and their sensitivity to flow; assessments of potential change as a consequence of climate and flow changes, using modelled hydrological scenarios as inputs to the assessment. The outputs are designed to enable assessments of risks for water resource planning, including questions of sensitivity of volume of water stored within basin, sensitivity of water extractions considering different water harvesting patterns, and sensitivity to climate change.
We will demonstrate this with applications in the Mitchell Catchment, the Fitzroy Catchment and the Darwin Catchments, using environmental assets including species, functional groups, important habitats, recreational and commercial species.