Researchers at the NatRiskChange graduate school at Potsdam University in Germany have published an article in the Earth's Future journal on February 2021 focusing on the 'cascade of hazards' in the Manning catchment starting with the worst drought in our recorded history.
Titled Cascading Hazards in the Aftermath of Australia's 2019/2020 Black Summer Wildfires, the research article studied "the cascade of drought, fire, rain, flood and soil erosion in the Manning River catchment".
In June 2020. aquatic ecologist, Dr Keith Bishop was contacted by PhD student via his website, asking for assistance with the research.
"I was stunned where this professional interest came from," Dr Bishop said.
"They could have chosen many rivers along the coast, but initially they were attracted to the Manning because about five river monitoring sites have good turbidity data recorded, and this is a result of MidCoast Water's efforts to get this set up with WaterNSW."
Dr Bishop then sent the researchers a link to a story on the Manning River Times website titled Extreme loads of sedimentation in Manning catchment due to drought, fire and floods.
"That seemed to clinch the Manning as the target system. (The researcher's) words were 'This really helps as a sort of ground truth to the remote sensing approach we have to use'."
Researchers used the Manning catchment as an example of how a cascade of events flows on to cause dramatic problems.
The unprecedented drought, with the Manning River completely drying up past the tidal point, also for the first time in recorded history, was a key driver of the Black Summer bushfires in 2019/2020, and heavy rainfall and minor flooding soon after the fires caused soil erosion with ash, soil and debris to be washed into water bodies leaving extreme sedimentation.
The article says that although the flooding following the fires was minor, "water quality was drastically affected by this flood".
The report concluded that the events were in part linked to each other, and in combination the magnitude of such events were increased and that "climate change is projected to increase the frequency of compounding warm and dry periods ... which could lead to further event cascades like the one in 2019/2020".
It also concluded, "Mitigating the effects of climate change will require investigating these complex interactions, including these events in risk analysis and planning, establishing consistent monitoring systems to be better prepared for future hazard cascades".
You can read the journal article at agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2020EF001884.
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