In a “land of droughts and flooding rains,” transformational adaptation has begun.
Australia most recently weathered its “Big Dry” drought, and although this recent drought was the third of a series of droughts over the last 110 years, it caused unprecedented impacts on water supply, agriculture, natural systems and more. The impacts of the Big Dry were exacerbated by unusually hot temperatures, and warming has continued, increasing concern about future drought as in other places around the globe. Not surprisingly, drought-prone Australia shares another feature with other drought-prone regions around the globe – the paleoclimate record makes it clear that even longer (over 100 years in duration), more severe, megadroughts have occurred repeatedly in the last 3000 years, and could easily reoccur in the future, only made worse than in the past by continued warming. The transformative resource management strategies stemming from the Big Dry drought are likely just a start, but they also provide useful examples for other regions to study in their own efforts to reduce vulnerability to future, hotter, dought.