Lake Eyre Basin: Challenges for Managing the World’s Most Variable River System
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The Lake Eyre Basin occupies about one sixth of the Australian continent (1.2 million km2) and includes parts of three states and one territory: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory (Fig. 15.1). It is in the most arid region on the land mass where temperatures can exceed 50ºC and annual rainfall is less than 250 mm in the central part of the basin. Potential evaporation always exceeds annual rainfall; the driest part around (Lake Eyre, only averages about 125 mm a year but the areal potential evaporation is more than an order of magnitude greater (~2,500 mm). Much of its productivity and environmental value is dependent on rainfall and how this drives fl ows in the basin’s major rivers. The basin is endorheic with its rivers carrying periodic large fl oods (Kotwicki and Isdale 1991) which inundate a range of different wetlands, including fl oodplains; some large fl oods or sequences of fl oods eventually reach Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre).
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