Research focus: Climate Change

One of the key drivers affecting future water availability in South Australia is climate change, which has placed new pressures on water use and threatened supply.

This cross-cutting research theme supported the incorporation of climate adaptation policy into research outcomes from the Goyder Institute Phase 1 Urban WaterEnvironmental Water and Water for Industry research themes.

It included future scenarios, based on the best understanding at the time, that there are expected to be increases in demand and possible reductions in water supply to South Australia as a result of a changing climate.

In 2011, the Goyder Institute commenced a project to develop downscaled climate change projections for South Australia, that is, possible future climates generated at a local scale. There are over 40 global climate models (GCMs) used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for generating climate projections.  The Goyder Institute identified a subset of these GCMs based on their ability to reproduce the State’s climate drivers such as the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This sub-set of GCMs were then used to generate climate projections at a local scale – providing the best available science to ensure that SA is Climate Ready. 

SA Climate Ready

SA Climate Ready is the most comprehensive set of downscaled climate projections data ever available in South Australia. Data is available for six climate variables (rainfall, temperature maximum, temperature minimum, areal potential evapotranspiration, solar radiation, vapour pressure deficit), using two emission scenarios (intermediate and high “representative concentration pathways”) through to 2100.

The key features of SA Climate Ready include:

Development of an agreed set of climate change projections for South Australia

Climate change is anticipated to bring about significant changes to the capacity of, and the demand on, South Australia’s water resources. As future changes to these water resources cannot be measured in the present, hydrological models are critical in the planning required to adapt the State’s water resource management strategies to future climate conditions.

In this project, Goyder Institute researchers developed an agreed set of downscaled climate change projections for South Australia to support proactive responses to climate change in water resource planning and management at a State and regional scale.

This priority project involved four major components:

  1. Understanding the key drivers of climate change in South Australia
  2. Selection of Global Climate Models that represent South Australia’s climate drivers
  3. Downscaling climate projections for all eight South Australian Natural Resource Management regions
  4. Development of an application test bed

SA Climate Ready: regional summaries

The Climate Ready SA data has been summarised at the scale of individual NRM regions for average annual rainfall, maximum temperature and minimum temperature. These summaries provide an overview of the direction of change for these variables for each NRM region for the 21st century. This can assist with raising general awareness about climate change impacts across the State and help inform region scale adaptation planning projects.

The following regional summaries are available:

The Climate Ready SA data has already been used for a number projects that are helping to improve planning and decision making in South Australia. The detailed data sets have potential applications for:

The following case studies provide a description of projects that have already applied the Climate Ready SA data: