The Lab’s newest addition to our body of work on disputed water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin, “Quantifying Australia’s dryland vegetation response to flooding and drought at sub-continental scale” is being published in Remote Sensing of Environment.
Using the same Landsat time series as Mirela’s 2016 flood dynamics paper that covered ¼ century of hydro-climatic variability, Mark examined how riparian vegetation responds to water availability, and how this relationship changed over time.
The importance of our work for Australia’s semi-arid breadbasket is in its synoptic character of our results over a sub-continental study area, quantifying for the first time the spatially explicit relationships between rainfall, flooding and vegetation response and how these relationships changed during Australia’s Millennium Drought.
Specifically we quantified the relative contributions of rainfall and flooding to vegetation response with high spatial detail, before and after the onset of the extended drought period. We found abrupt changes to the vegetation response and its drivers after the onset of Millennium Drought, which were highly variable both across the basin and over short distances within the same floodplain section.
Thereby, we derived the previously unknown response of riparian vegetation to water availability and how this relationship changed with drought, which is of critical interest for environmental water allocations, Australia’s largest environmental investment.