Climate change impacts on the water balance of coastal and montane rainforests in northern Queensland, Australia

Wallace, James, and McJannet, Dave (2012) Climate change impacts on the water balance of coastal and montane rainforests in northern Queensland, Australia. Journal of Hydrology, 475. pp. 84-96.

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Abstract

How the water balance of coastal and montane rainforests in northern Queensland could change in response to climate change was examined using physically based models of interception and transpiration along with long term weather records. Future rainfall and temperature changes were based on the most recent climate modelling for the region and were assumed to fall within the range ±20% for rainfall with a temperature increase of 1–3 K. Climate change will affect the water balance of Australian rainforests primarily via rainfall changes rather than temperature. Any given change in rainfall produces a greater change in downstream runoff, the amplification ranging from 1.1 to 1.5 in the wet season to a factor of 12 in the dry season. Changes in wet season rainfall (80% of the annual total) dominate the total annual amount of water released for downstream flow, but dry season rainfall (20% of the annual total) changes are also very important as they affect onset and the duration of the period when there is no runoff. This period is currently ~110 days and this would change by ±30 days under the above climate scenarios. There are also potential in situ impacts of climate change that affect how long the rainforest canopy is wet, which may have important implications for the epiphytes and mosses that depend on these wet canopy conditions. Similarly there may be significant impacts on downstream freshwater species whose life cycles are adapted to the current dry season flow regime.

Item ID: 26318
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0022-1694
Keywords: rainforest, water balance, climate change, canopy wetness, run off
Funders: Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2013 02:45
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960505 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 50%
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