Queensland drought

Queensland drought

23.12.2015 - Posted by Selene Conn
Queensland is in drought. As of November 2015, 86% of Queensland was drought declared. Those of us who live in Townsville are now on water restrictions as our water supply (Ross Dam) is down to 27% capacity. Australia’s November mean temperatures were the third warmest on record and NASA recently published climate statistics showing that October 2015 was the warmest ever recorded globally.

This blog gives you a stark and visual illustration of what those statistics look like on the ground. What exactly does the drought look like along the usually wetter regions of the east coast of Queensland?

Through repeat annual monitoring of vegetation communities at static locations that Alluvium has been conducting, we have seen that the effect of the drought is dramatic. While several native tree and shrub species are known to be semi-deciduous, substantial leaf-drop has occurred in the last two years including non-deciduous species, with visual browning of leaves in others and the complete desiccation of groundcovers. These photos were taken at fixed locations at a site near Emerald, Queensland in 2013 before the onset of drought and recently in 2015 during drought conditions. Please note these sites are not grazed.

Before the drought

After the drought

Endemic Australian native species have evolved to cope with variable rainfall, so most of these drought effected vegetation communities will be able to recover with the onset of rain and an increase in soil moisture.

However, human induced changes to groundwater, overland flow paths, patch fragmentation and introduction of grazing lowers the resilience of many of these communities. Where disturbance is at its greatest, recovery will be slow. Let’s hope it rains!