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Future Directions

Future research directions should further progress our understanding of the key climatological and hydrological drivers of water availability in south-eastern Australia, and determine how these are likely to change in the future. This will lead to improved projections of climate and water availability across a range of timescales from seasonal, to decadal and longer time frames. This can be achieved by reducing uncertainties through:

  • determining the key influences on observed changes in the mean meridional circulation and how these changes are likely to progress in a warmer world,
  • determining how changes in the mean meridional circulation and other key indices of climate (e.g. ENSO, IOD and SAM) will impact upon future rainfall,
  • representing changes in these key climate influences in global and regional climate models,
  • determining whether the climate baseline of south-eastern Australia has shifted (as has happened in south-west Western Australia) and how to account for this shift in climate projections,
  • developing improved climate and streamflow projections informed by the new CMIP5 global climate models (used in the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC), weighted towards the better performing models where necessary,
  • assessing the use of global climate models for climate forecasting several years ahead in order to improve predictions of multi-year water availability,
  • deriving improved projections of rainfall using downscaling which account for changes in rainfall extremes and sequencing,
  • determining how the rainfall-runoff relationship changes under conditions of extended drought, and the implications of this for projections of water availability,
  • adapting hydrological models to represent changes in the rainfall-runoff relationship under drought conditions, and
  • determining how the rainfall-temperature-runoff relationship may change under enhanced CO2 conditions through changes in biological water demand and vegetation function.