[ASC-media] Think Locally, Act Regionally - says water researcher

Cathy Reade creade at squirrel.com.au
Tue Aug 15 12:28:08 CEST 2006

Embargoed: 16 August 2006


A senior Australian climate scientist has called for more regionally-based
studies on how countries in the Australasian region can adapt to climate

“Projected climate change will exert considerable impacts on freshwater
resources and its management in our region,” says the Director of CSIRO’s
Climate Program, Dr Bryson Bates.

Dr Bates is addressing Water for Irrigated Agriculture and the Environment:
Finding a Flow For All, the Crawford Fund’s development conference in
Parliament House, Canberra today (16 August).

It will be opened at 9am by The Hon Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign
Affairs, followed by the keynote address by Dr Frank Rijsberman, Director
General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the world's
pre-eminent research institution on management of water for food and
agriculture. A press conference will be held at 12pm. The Hon Malcolm
Turnbull will make an address at 3.35pm.

“There are water shortages right now in Australia and as authorities respond
with a range of mechanisms, the issue is already causing considerable
concern in areas vulnerable to projected climate change,” Dr Bates says.

“As populations grow and shift in line with economic development there will
be an impact on the balance between water availability and demand and
ultimately water quality.”

He says that water managers in both the south west and south east of
Australia are reviewing changes to rainfall in their regions and options for
adapting to the drier conditions - particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin
which produces 40 per cent of Australia’s agricultural production.

Scientists have begun scrutinising the region’s climate record in a $7
million project - the South East Australia Climate Initiative.

He says climate change is likely to result in: an intensification of the
water cycle, with increased risk of floods and droughts; changes in the
seasonality of river flows in regions where winter precipitation falls as
snow; adverse changes to water quality and greater rates of soil erosion;
and, increases in sea level, which will impair the quality of fresh water
available from coastal aquifers and wetlands.

Projections of climate change are developed from an assessment of a range of
computer simulations by global climate models including those produced by

Few studies have considered the feasibility and effectiveness of adaptation
measures for specific water supply systems.

In Australia, projections have been developed for most States and several
regions, including the Murray Darling Basin. Outside Australia, projections
have been developed for the Yellow and Yangtze River systems in China and
the Mekong River basin in Vietnam, as well as for many other regions.

Dr Bates said climate change research in the past decade had made
significant advances but required substantial refinement to generate
regional projections with a high level of confidence.

Further information, photos, additional press releases, the program,
abstracts and bios are available at www.crawfordfund.org or by contacting
Cathy Reade, Public Awareness Coordinator, Crawford Fund on 0413 575 934.

The ATSE Crawford Fund wishes to thanks the sponsors for this event,
Alliance of the CGIAR Centers; AusAID - the Australian Agency for
International Development; Australian Centre for International Agricultural
Research; Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Forestry; Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage;
CRC for Irrigation Futures; CSIRO Land and Water; CSIRO Livestock
Industries; Grains Research and Development Corporation; International Water
Management Institute; Land & Water Australia; Murray-Darling Basin
Commission; National Water Commission

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