2 – Water – where, when, how much? 21 hydrology and geomorphology of this reach are reasonably well known after 20 years of research, which shows that small flows follow channelised pathways and experience low ‘transmission losses’, compared to the medium to large floods, which cover more of the floodplain and hence experience higher proportional losses (Knighton and Nanson 1994 Knighton and Nanson 2001 McMahon et al. 2008a). A ‘transmission loss’ means the water doesn’t progress further downstream, but in fact it is not a loss at all because the water is critically important to the spectacular ecology of the floodplain and landholders who graze Table 2.1. Changes in the number of stations in state government gauging station networks in major catchments of the Lake Eyre Basin during different periods. Unrated and non-telemetered water level logger sites installed since 2000 as part of research projects or the Lake Eyre Basin Rivers Assessment (LEBRA) monitoring project were not included. Catchment Pre-1966 1966–1990 1990–2010 Post 2010 Cooper 5 (3a) 11 9 13 (4a) Diamantina 1 2 1 4 (1a) Georgina 0 4 0 2 Finke 0 8 (5a) 8 (5a) 3 Macumba 0 0 0 1a Neales 0 0 0 2a a gauging stations with no rating curve (only flow levels monitored and not discharge). Fig. 2.2. During floods Cooper Creek breaks out of its major channels and spreads out along complex flow paths across the floodplain (photo, R. T. Kingsford).
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