Stable water isotopes as tools for basin-scale water cycle: diagnosis of the Murray–Darling

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Elsevier Ltd
We examine the hypothesis that isotopic techniques are applicable to hydrological predictions in difficult-to-simulate semi-arid basins, using the Murray–Darling Basin as an example. Isotopic data from three aquifers in the Murray–Darling characterize precipitation intensity for evaluation of GCMs. Applying these to ‘good’ (water conserving) and ‘poor’ (non-water-conserving) climate model simulations of the Murray–Darling gives rise to large differences in rainfall amount (30–62%). Selecting only ‘good’ models shows a greater than 150 mm annual groundwater recharge loss in El Niño cf. La Niña climates. 2002–2003 El Niño drought data are used to refine isotopic calculation of water lost in evaporation from rivers and irrigation, giving a cumulative loss of 64% of river water during 2002 (cf. 80% using a previous method). This substantiates recent identification of this El Niño drought as evaporatively most extreme and we conclude that stable water isotopes, used synergistically with hydro-climate models, have great potential in future water resource predictions. © 2006 Elsevier B.V.
Physical item available at ANSTO call number DDC- 363.7394/19
Water resources, Stable isotopes, Rivers, Ground water, Groundwater recharge, Southern Oscillation, New South Wales, Droughts
Henderson-Sellers, A., Airey, P., McGuffie, K., & Stone, D. J. M. (2006). Stable water isotopes as tools for basin-scale water cycle: diagnosis of the Murray–Darling. Paper presented to the International Conference on Isotopes in Environmental Studies: Aquatic Forum 2004, 25-29 October, Monaco. In P. P. Povinec & J. A. Sanchez-Cabeza (Eds.), Radioactivity in the Environment, Vol. 8, pp. 307-316. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.