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CSIRO’s Mission for Drought Resilience

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Australia has long had the highest rainfall variability on earth. Climate change means the frequency and severity of droughts will intensify, so it’s urgent to get on with smart research and action for drought resilience and adaptation strategies. And that’s what this episode is all about.  

Listen in to hear from CSIRO Drought Resilience Mission Lead Dr Graham Bonnett, in conversation with research colleagues Dr Kathryn Emmerson and Dr Declan Page, talk about the Mission, its goals, and zoom in on two especially exciting research projects they work on. 

Kathryn tells us about the project she leads, an innovative, strategic atmospheric dust modeling project that promises to offer an incredible tool for policymakers and for farmers to better plan and act to improve human and environmental health and for action for soil health, groundcover, and related land management and anti-desertification measures. A tool with national coverage, at a 10km scale, that will enable people to identify, zoom in on and act to better manage vulnerable dust threats, ‘hotspots’, coming dust events, and more.

Declan’s work on ‘water banking’ – or Managed Aquifer Recharge – is an important, exciting field that’s set for expansion as part of the mix of water security options. He explains how water banking involves replenishing underground aquifers when water is more available and recovering it during droughts. During Australia’s recent drought, many communities approached ‘Day Zero’ — when their town water supplies would run out. Some towns hit that threshold and needed to transport water in from elsewhere. That’s why a key focus of CSIRO’s Mission is looking at ways to improve regional water security through developments such as water banking.

As Graham says, now is the time to plan prepare for future droughts, and not leave it for when it is too late, “We can’t control the weather, but we can better prepare for times when water is scarce so that farms and communities can best adapt. We aren’t approaching this from a standing start. Between us and our partners, we have incredible breadth and scope in our knowledge and capabilities. New scientific advances allow us to tackle the likelihood of more frequent drought. And now is the time to act before the next big drought is here.”

City dwellers may also benefit from improved drought resilience. Our capital cities are not immune from water shortages and drought-related events, such as dust storms. 

CSIRO launched the Drought Resilience Mission in September. Working with industry, government, and communities, the Mission is striving to reduce the impacts of droughts in Australia and enable faster recovery. 

All with a goal of reducing the impacts of drought by 2030 by 30 percent. 

  • Dr Graham Bonnett, Interim Leader, Drought Resilience Mission, CSIRO 
  • Dr Kathryn Emmerson, Principal Research Scientist – Oceans and Atmosphere, CSIRO
  • Dr Declan Page CF, Principal Research Scientist – Groundwater Systems, Land and Water, CSIRO


To learn more/contact Graham, Kathryn, or Declan…





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