When the river runs dry: a spatiotemporal assessment of the Wheatbelt's water vulnerability — ASN Events

When the river runs dry: a spatiotemporal assessment of the Wheatbelt's water vulnerability (16106)

Bryan Boruff 1 , Eloise Biggs 2 , Natasha Pauli 1 , Julian Clifton 1 , Nik Callow 1
  1. University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
  2. Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

Water availability encompasses the physical reserves of water as well as the accessibility, use and sharing of water. Water, being the central node of the water, food, climate, and energy nexus, the resource plays a critical role in the sustainable development and livelihoods of a region. Varying socioeconomic and environmental conditions influence a system's vulnerability to water, with water availability. In an area of the state where effective management of water resources is vital for sustaining expanding populations, enabling livelihood diversification, and sustaining economic growth under increasingly adverse climate conditions, quantifying water vulnerability is key for generating effective adaptation responses and coping mechanisms. This research focuses on the water-climate connection whilst building upon existing approaches to measuring vulnerability through the development of a comprehensive framework to assess water vulnerability in Western Australia's Wheatbelt under changing climatic conditions.

Using a geographic approach, an index was developed to assess climate forced demand-driven and supply-driven water vulnerability for the region. The index was spatially applied using a Geographic Information System (GIS) as an analysis tool incorporating multiple socioeconomic and environmental datasets. Using regression analysis, the variables with the greatest influence on overall water vulnerability were identified as well as trends in water vulnerability over several census periods from 2001 to 2011. The resulting analysis provides a baseline for examining issues surrounding future water use and sustainable development in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt.