Flood Management Research Unit

Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety

Improving the accuracy of flood risk estimation for planning purposes, and our understanding of the factors that assist our ability to manage floods in real time.

Mission

Our mission is to use hydrological, remote sensing, modelling, spatial information and visualisation expertise to improve the management of flood risk.

Objectives

Improve the accuracy of flood risk estimation for planning purposes, and better understand the factors that assist our ability to manage floods in real time.

Overview

We are currently working on two main themes relevant to both flood planning and operational flood forecasting. In the flood planning area, our focus is on the estimation of extremely rare floods that are relevant to the design of major infrastructure such as dams and bridges. We have previously developed methods for estimating the risks of rainfalls that have a “one in a million” chance of being exceeded in any one year for southern areas of Australia, and we are currently further refining these methods for application to tropical storms that occur in northern Australia. In flood operations, we are developing methods for “downscaling” numerical weather prediction forecasts to provide short term probabilistic forecasts of rainfalls that vary spatially and temporally across catchments. We are also developing modelling methods that can take advantage of these rainfall forecasts to provide confidence limits on flood forecasts for operational purposes.

Capabilities

  • Use of remote sensing and spatial information for forecasting catchment conditions
  • Characterisation of uncertainty in rainfall and flood forecasts for operational purposes
  • Representation of spatial and temporal variability of forecast rainfalls
  • Stochastic simulation of the conversion of rainfalls into floods
  • Statistical analysis of extremes in flood and rainfall occurrence

Impacts

  • The methods we have developed to estimate risks of extreme rainfalls and floods have provided water agencies with information required to prioritise investments in major infrastructure works. In one case, this has enabled a water agency to re-direct $150 million earmarked for dam upgrade works to risk reduction measures for other areas of its portfolio.
  • Improved rainfall forecast and hydrologic simulation products will provide agencies with the ability to make decisions in the face of uncertainty, and will allow them to formulate hedging strategies to better manage their risks.

Unit Leads

Prof. Andrew Western; A/Prof. Rory Nathan