Modelling climate-change impacts on groundwater recharge in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia

Russell S. Crosbie, James L. McCallum, Glen R. Walker, Francis H.S. Chiew

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99 Citations (Scopus)


A methodology is presented for assessing the average changes in groundwater recharge under a future climate. The method is applied to the 1,060,000 km2 Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) in Australia. Climate sequences were developed based upon three scenarios for a 2030 climate relative to a 1990 climate from the outputs of 15 global climate models. Dryland diffuse groundwater recharge was modelled in WAVES using these 45 climate scenarios and fitted to a Pearson Type III probability distribution to condense the 45 scenarios down to three: a wet future, a median future and a dry future. The use of a probability distribution allowed the significance of any change in recharge to be assessed. This study found that for the median future, climate recharge is projected to increase on average by 5% across the MDB but this is not spatially uniform. In the wet and dry future scenarios the recharge is projected to increase by 32% and decrease by 12% on average across the MDB, respectively. The differences between the climate sequences generated by the 15 different global climate models makes it difficult to project the direction of the change in recharge for a 2030 climate, let alone the magnitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1639-1656
Number of pages18
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


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