Design droughts as planning tool for ecosystem establishment in post-mining landscapes

Halwatura, D., Lechner, A. M. and Arnold, S. (2014) Design droughts as planning tool for ecosystem establishment in post-mining landscapes. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 11 5: 4809-4849. doi:10.5194/hessd-11-4809-2014


Author Halwatura, D.
Lechner, A. M.
Arnold, S.
Title Design droughts as planning tool for ecosystem establishment in post-mining landscapes
Journal name Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1812-2108
1812-2116
Publication date 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.5194/hessd-11-4809-2014
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 11
Issue 5
Start page 4809
End page 4849
Total pages 41
Place of publication Goettingen, Germany
Publisher Copernicus
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract Eastern Australia has considerable mineral and energy resources and areas of high biodiversity value co-occurring over a broad range of agro-climatic environments. Water is the primary abiotic stressor for (agro)ecosystems in many parts of Eastern Australia. In the context of mined land rehabilitation quantifying the severity-duration-frequency (SDF) of droughts is crucial for successful ecosystem rehabilitation to overcome challenges of early vegetation establishment and long-term ecosystem resilience. The objective of this study was to quantify the SDF of short-term and long-term drought events of 11 selected locations across a broad range of agro-climatic environments in Eastern Australia by using three drought indices at different time scales: the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), the Reconnaissance Drought Index (RDI), and the Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI). Based on the indices we derived bivariate distribution functions of drought severity and duration, and estimated the recurrence intervals of drought events at different time scales. The correlation between the simple SPI and the more complex SPEI or RDI was stronger for the tropical and temperate locations than for the arid locations, indicating that SPEI or RDI can be replaced by SPI if evaporation plays a minor role for plant available water. Both short-term and long-term droughts were most severe and prolonged, and occurred most frequently in arid regions, but were relatively rare in tropical and temperate regions. Our approach is similar to intensity-duration-frequency (IDF) analyses of rainfall crucial to design infrastructure. In this regard, we propose to apply SDF analyses of droughts to design ecosystem components in post-mining landscapes. Together with design rainfalls, design droughts should be used to assess rehabilitation strategies and ecological management based on drought recurrence intervals, thereby minimising the risk of failure of initial ecosystem establishment due to ignorance of fundamental abiotic and site-specific environmental barriers.
Q-Index Code CX
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation Publications
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Created: Tue, 13 May 2014, 20:46:22 EST by Dr Sven Arnold on behalf of Centre For Mined Land Rehabilitation