Upland Peatlands of Eastern Australia as Important Water Storage Reservoirs

Kirsten L Cowley, Kirstie A Fryirs, Tim J Cohen, Sam Marx, Matt Forbes, Martin Krogh

Abstract


The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area contains over 5,000 ha of peat forming upland swamps (n = 1,858) and numerous freshwater lagoons and lakes such as the Thirlmere Lakes southwest of Sydney. These systems are well known for their water storage capacity, even during dry spells. Here we use peat depth measurements and water content calculations to quantify potential water storage capacity within Lake Baraba in the Thirlmere Lakes National Park. We fi nd that total water storage capacity of the peat in Lake Baraba is 150±17.3 ML. We also calculate total water storage of peat-forming upland swamps across the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area which totals ~60,600 ±33,500 ML. The implications of climate change and anthropogenic disturbance on the water storage and supply functions of these systems as part of the Sydney water supply catchment provides a strong case for their conservation.

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