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Water: drought

The definition of 'drought' is complex, and dependent on different factors such as location and climatic zone. Droughts are generally accepted to be prolonged periods of abnormally dry weather, with scarcity of moisture having an adverse effect on vegetation and animal life in an area. Although usually seen in the negative it should be understood that drought events are a natural part of many ecosystems and may play an important role in the functioning of these ecosystems.

Prior to the 1860s droughts were scarcely noticed as most settlers were living in areas with reliable rainfall. It was the drought of 1864-65 which led to the drawing of Goyder's 'line of rainfall' indicating the limit of the rainfall which separated lands suitable for agriculture from those fit for pastoral use only. It marked areas of reliable and unreliable annual rainfall, and was pivotal in raising awareness for South Australian settlers of the limits for successful agriculture.

The current drought which is affecting the Murray-Darling system is said to be equal to the worst droughts of the last century. Over the last 100 years since accurate records have been kept, South Australia has experienced several severe droughts which affected the River Murray in South Australia in the following years: 1884-86, 1895-98, 1901-03, 1911-15, 1927-29, 1943-46, 1959, 1961, 1967, 1976-77, 1982-83




Cropping, Lake Bonney
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Drought conditions at Renmark
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Low river at Moorook in 1915.
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Porpoise at Tailem Bend
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SA : home of the new Dead Sea
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Items 1 - 5 of 5


Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity
Department for Environment and Heritage

Downstream : SA Memory's dedicated River Murray site
Goyder's Line : SA Memory page
Living with drought : Bureau of Meteorology website



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