Impacts of reduced water availability on floodplain and riparian vegetation: the importance of considering vegetation in groundwater development studies
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Fresh groundwater resources are a highly valuable commodity, particularly in semi-arid to arid landscapes where annual precipitation is low and surface water is scarce. Water security, often achieved through the development of groundwater resources, is a high priority for rural communities within these water-limited landscapes. However this is often at the expense of the environment when alterations to the groundwater system, often in conjunction with drought conditions, can detrimentally impact floodplain and riparian vegetation structure and function. Remote-sensing methods can be used to detect such changes in vegetation. In this study, a multi-temporal Landsat Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) approach was used to detect changes in riparian and floodplain vegetation in the Lower-Darling floodplain, NSW, Australia. When integrated with surface and subsurface data, these changes provided insight into how surface water availability and subsurface geological and hydrogeological characteristics influenced vegetation distribution and behaviour at multiple scales. It was found that while the availability of water resources was the primary driver of changes in vegetation canopy dynamics, this availability was strongly influenced by both tectonic and hydrogeological processes. These findings were of particular importance when considering the suitability of groundwater development options and they have implications for future groundwater assessment studies.
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Publication derived from Broken Hill Managed Aquifer Recharge project research/data.
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The data/information in this publication is based on research carried out in the Broken Hill Managed Aquifer Recharge project and is therefore owned by the Commonwealth Government (Geoscience Australia)