Drought is a recurring hazard in Australia which significantly impact social, economic and natural systems. Droughts can also precede other extreme events such as heatwaves and bushfires. Typically starting from a precipitation deficit, droughts propagate to other components of the water cycle such as soil moisture stores, runoff and groundwater. Notably, recent studies have identified a new type of drought characterised by an unusually quick drying of the land – called flash drought. While precipitation deficit is one of the critical causes, the relative role of enhanced evapotranspiration rates in flash drought development remains uncertain. Recent research has found that flash droughts have been increasing in parts of Australia, highlighting the need to better understand these events. The student will use multi-source datasets to identify the drivers of flash droughts and quantify their relative role in the Australian context. The results of this project may contribute to improved monitoring and prediction of future Australian flash droughts.

Supervisors: Dr Anjana Devanand, Dr Mengyuan Mu, Dr Chiara Holgate

To apply: the Undergraduate Scholarship application form can be found here.

Required skills: Programming experience in either Python, R, NCL or Matlab etc.; Basic knowledge about hydrology or atmospheric sciences

Period: Flexible