Improving our Understanding of Climate Change-Groundwater Interactions in the Pacific

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Groundwater on oceanic islands can be a reliable water resource if managed properly. However, the threat to island groundwater resources from projected climate change and sea-level rise is not yet quantified. This project will use Vanuatu as a case study, a Pacific island that experiences considerable inter-annual variability as a result of the El Nin?o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) - a tropical Pacific phenomena arising from complex atmosphere-ocean interactions. In Vanuatu rainfall records only commence from 1950 making it difficult to assess past and future trends. The research will use ENSO-sensitive climate proxies from eastern Australia and New Zealand to reconstruct Vanuatu rainfall and investigate changing groundwater supplies. Climate model projections will inform on likely long-term trends and the amplified risk of multiyear drought anomalies. The results will be used to estimate the replenishment of the groundwater resource and movement of the subsurface freshwater and seawater interface using numerical groundwater modelling.

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Supervisory team

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences


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