Types of tropical rivers
Types of tropical rivers
The rivers and estuaries across northern Australia can differ substantially between catchments. Differences in rivers - primarily their flow patterns and how they form and evolve - are likely to influence ecosystem processes, the potential types of developments around the river systems, and their responses to development and climate change.
Due to the vastness of northern Australia and the limited knowledge we have about the region’s tropical rivers, researchers in this theme aimed to develop:
- A better understanding of the physical attributes of various river systems, and the demographics and economics of local communities in the three focus catchments.
- A classification system that would allow information about one catchment to be transferred to another, so that knowledge could be applied in areas where little information is available.
Allocating water for environmental flows, testing scenarios, analysing the risks of management options, and planning for the impacts of climate change all need to be based on predicted changes in flow regime.
Flow regime is affected by combinations of climate, catchment geology, topography and vegetation, influencing habitat for aquatic and riparian (streamside) animals and plants, refuge availability, food distribution, movement and migration, reproduction and recruitment.
Streams in northern Australia generally fall into one of two categories: ‘predictable summer highly intermittent’, meaning they stop flowing for 100-200 days/year; and ‘stream with stable summer baseflow’, meaning they keep flowing during the dry season but are fed by groundwater.
During the synthesis and adoption year, the work from Phase 1 research was refined into an online classification engine, the Australian Riverine Landscape Classifier (AURICL).
AURICL allows users to classify tropical catchments and their rivers based on the similarity or dissimilarity of a wide range of parameters, such as soil type, water availability, topography, or average income and economic activity along the river.
Hosted by Geoscience Australia on the OzCoasts website, AURICL builds on Geoscience’s extensive web GIS system to add catchments to the estuaries and coastline information already available.
Find out more about AURICL or click on the links below to find out more about the earlier projects undertaken in this theme.
Phase 1 projects
|2011||River classification and its application to environmental flow management|
|2007||Towards an objective approach for a regional - continental scale geomorphic river classification|
|2008||The Delineation of Valley Margins as the basis for a valley confinement index using different resolution DEM data: implications for continental scale river classification approaches.|
|2011||A separate flow regime classification for northern Australia: is it needed?|
|2009||Flow regime and ecology|
|2009||GIS tool instrumental in river research|