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European Geosciences Union, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 4(19), p. 2057-2078

DOI: 10.5194/hess-19-2057-2015

European Geosciences Union, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 10(11), p. 11905-11943

DOI: 10.5194/hessd-11-11905-2014



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Impacts of high inter-annual variability of rainfall on a century of extreme hydrologic regime of northwest Australia

Journal article published in 2015 by A. Rouillard ORCID, G. Skrzypek ORCID, S. Dogramaci ORCID, C. Turney ORCID, P. F. Grierson ORCID
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Long-term hydrologic records provide crucial reference baselines of natural variability that can be used to evaluate potential changes in hydrologic regimes and their impacts. However, there is a dearth of studies of the hydrologic regimes for tropical drylands where intraseasonal and interannual variability in magnitude and frequency of precipitation are extreme. Here, we sought to identify the main hydroclimatic determinants of the strongly episodic flood regime of a large catchment in the semi-arid, subtropical northwest of Australia and to establish the background of hydrologic variability for the region over the last century. We used a monthly sequence of satellite images to quantify surface water expression on the Fortescue Marsh, the largest water feature of inland northwest Australia, from 1988 to 2012. We used this sequence together with instrumental rainfall data to build a statistical model with multiple linear regression and reconstruct monthly history of floods and droughts since 1912. We found that severe and intense regional rainfall events, as well as the sequence of recharge events both within and between years, determine surface water expression on the floodplain (i.e. total rainfall, number of rain days and carried-over inundated area; R 2 adj = 0.79; p value