Step by step assessment of climate change in estuaries

In practice, each estuary requires a site-specific risk assessment that takes into account the locally variable changes in climate, its unique hydrological and geomorphological setting, and the ecosystem that it supports.

Using two estuaries in New South Wales (Hunter River and Lake Cathie) as  case studies, this module turns the concepts and guidelines presented in Module 1-5 into practice.  This Module illustrates how estuary models can be used to estimate the physical changes in an estuary resulting from climate change (i.e. increases in temperatures, water levels, salinity) over a planning horizon. These projected physical changes, in combination with the eco-thresholds database, are then used as the basis for an ecological risk assessment.

This module is written in the form of a research paper that is currently undergoing a scientific peer-review process. It will be made available as soon as it is published.

Module-6 addresses the following questions:

  • What datasets and models are needed to undertake a state-of-the-art climate change risk assessment for estuaries?
  • Using the best available climate change projections for NSW, what are the most likely changes in the physical environment of a wave-dominated estuary (Hunter River) and an ICOLL (Lake Cathie)?
  • What is the most likely effect of these physical changes on the ecosystems that these estuaries support?
  • What are the species that are most at risk to be adversely impacted by climate change?