Modelling adaptive management strategies for coping with the impacts of climate variability and change on riverine algal blooms


Neil R. Viney, tel. +61 2 6246 5814, fax +61 2 6246 5800, e-mail:


The impact of climate change on hydrology and water resources is one of the most critical issues facing the world in the next few decades. In particular, there is a need to quantify the risks associated with maintaining the security of resource quantity and quality, and to assess the effectiveness of potential management strategies. In this paper, we assess the impacts of climate variability and change on one aspect of river health. A simple model of Anabaena algal bloom occurrence at a weir pool in the lower Murrumbidgee River, Australia, has been coupled to a catchment model that is used to simulate streamflow, irrigation demand and diversions, dam water storage and releases, and decision-making by both irrigators and managers. Long-term climate data are obtained from a statistical downscaling algorithm, which, when applied to global climate model predictions can provide climate data suitable for driving the coupled model under a variety of climatic scenarios. The coupled model is then used to assess the impact of climate variability and projected climate change on the frequency, duration and magnitude of Anabaena blooms. The impact of two management strategies for bloom control are also assessed and it is shown that even a single, quite simple, resource-neutral, adaptive management strategy has the potential to substantially reduce the occurrence and impact of algal blooms and to more than compensate for the deleterious impacts of climate change. This result supports the notion that planning for the future can lead to positive outcomes in the present.