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Lake Eyre, Australia, Very Sensitive to Climate Change and Fluctuations in Rainfall

February 9th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes, Salt Flats

Australia – January 27th, 2013

Lake Eyre, a great salt lake of tectonic origin, lies asymmetrically in the south-western corner of the closed inland drainage basin in the heart of the Australian continent. Here, it appears as an irregularly shaped white area southwest of the image center.

With an area of 1,140,000 km2, Lake Eyre Basin is the largest Australian drainage division apart from the Western Plateau and is one of the largest areas of internal drainage in the world. The lake, whose lowest parts lie 15.2 m below sea level, consists of two sections. Lake Eyre North, 144 km long and 77 km wide, is joined by the narrow Goyder Channel to Lake Eyre South, which is 64 km long and 24 km in width. Not so long ago it was considered to be permanently dry, but the last forty years have witnessed some twenty flood events.

The vast catchment areas of the lakes are only marginally desert and as such are very responsive to even slight variations of rainfall. Considering the long term trends of climatic change is therefore essential. Almost all the non-desert parts of the Lake Eyre Basin area are used for low-intensity grazing of sheep for wool and beef cattle. The very variable rainfall is the most important factor for provision of feed, and low rainfall seasons determine stocking rates (click here for more information).

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