Adapting to climate change: a risk assessment and decision framework for managing groundwater dependent ecosystems with declining water levels.

Adaptation Research Grants Program
Jane Chambers
Murdoch University

Executive Summary from final report

One of the key gaps in climate change adaptation research is translating relevant science into tools useful for management. The objective of this research was to develop and test a risk assessment and decision-making framework for managing groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) with declining water levels due to climate change, anthropogenic extraction, land use and land management.

The framework integrates a standard risk assessment protocol enabling the approach to be easily transferred to sites within Australia and internationally. The framework is based around the construction of a conceptual model which identifies the interrelationships between climate, hydrology, water quality and/or biotic resources and the biota in an ecosystem. It is a problem solving framework that provides a transparent outline of the cause and effects of change to an ecosystem, highlighting key drivers that provide the focus for management and climate change adaptation. The framework is designed for declining water levels within the ecosystem, so it can readily be adapted to address surface water ecosystems by substituting, or adding, surface water inputs into the conceptual model.

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