Changes in the hydrology of a region can have profound ecological socio-economic consequences. Some of the changes can be attributed to year-to-year variations in rainfall but longer-term changes can and do occur. For example, how might increasing or decreasing vegetation cover impact on streamflow? How might an increased water use efficiency of photosynthesis due to elevated CO2 impact on streamflow? How does a rainfall deficit propagate through a catchment and how long does it take for a reduction in streamflow to occur? How might coal seam gas extraction impact on the quantity and quality of streamflow? What is the impact on streamflow of a 10% reduction in rainfall.
The significant questions are never ending.
In the last decade, the Hydrology discipline has been developing a a new approach stimulated by the ever-growing availability of satellite measurements. The satellite database toolbox now includes observations, of, for example, (i) rainfall, (ii) the total change in water mass as observed by the GRACE satellites, and a new series global radiation databases (called CERES) developed at NASA. These core hydrologic databases are complemented by satellite observations of vegetation. In addition, we now have routine access to both global and regional climate models that can be used to help answer regional hydrologic questions.
The challenge is to use these new tools to ask important regional hydrologic questions.
A number of suitable projects are available for students at different levels (e.g. undergraduate projects, Hons, MSc, PhD).
Contact: Prof. Michael L. Roderick, GFD Group