News from the CRC

20151110_135713_crop.jpg

The HydroSurveyor working near Rogan's Bridge on the Clarence River.
The HydroSurveyor working near Rogan's Bridge on the Clarence River.
Release date
12 Feb 2016
More information:
Assoc Prof Valentijn Pauwels
Project Leader

River bed mapping to help flood forecasting

A team of CRC researchers has been measuring the shape and depth of the Clarence River bed in northern New South Wales as part of moves to improve flood forecasting for the area.

Lead by Project Leader Associate Professor Valentjin Pauwels (Monash University), the team used a HydroSurveyor, which includes an echo sounder, a Doppler velocity profiler and GPS antenna, to help build a three-dimensional map of the river bed.

The new mapping will cover an area from Mountainview (about 18km upstream of Grafton) to about Copmanhurst (about 20km further upstream) and will be added to existing three dimensional maps of the river bed from just upstream of Grafton to the river mouth.

It will be used to help calculate the capacity of the river to deal with incoming flows.

A/Prof Pauwels said the flood forecasting work, a key component of the ‘Improving flood forecast skill using remote sensing data’ project, was based on two models: hydrological and hydraulic. The hydrologic model used rain forecasts to compute the amount of water entering the system and the hydraulic model computed how water entering the system travelled downstream.

“With that information we can predict water depth and velocity at any point in the valley,” he said.

“Our team is convinced the use of satellite and airborne remote sensing data to correct numerical models in real time will improve the accuracy of the flood forecasting system.”

Associate Professor Pauwels, who was supported in the research by fellow CRC researchers Professor Jeffrey Walker, Dr Yuan Li, Dr Stefania Grimaldi and Ashley Wright, said the Clarence River was affected by major floods in May 2009, January 2011, January 2012, January 2013 and February 2013.

“An improved flood forecasting system will enhance the emergency management capability, thus reducing the flood-related financial costs and community discomfort,” he said.

“The availability of timely and accurate flood forecasts will allow for time-effective warnings, the implementation of evacuation plans and the set-up of safe recovery and storage areas.

“Floods are the most common and deadliest natural disasters in Australia. Between 1967 and 2005 the average direct cost of floods in Australia has been estimated at $377 million.

“We hope this research will produce more accurate flood height predictions.”

Clarence Valley Council  local emergency management officer, Kieran McAndrew, said the Clarence River was the heart of the council area. 

"It is the largest of all NSW coastal rivers in catchment area and river discharge, which means flooding is part of life for the community of around 50,000 people," he said.

"Clarence Valley Council is happy to support and help research projects where it can, but especially when the outcomes of such research have the potential to improve flood peak estimates and flood warnings. 

"The Clarence Valley community relies on warnings to prepare for imminent flooding, so there is a real benefit to be gained from the research. 

"Because council believes in the benefits of the CRC project it has been collaborating with researchers and helping them find data for their project," Mr McAndrew said.

More news from the CRC

Storm surge damage at Ponte Vedra Florida from Hurricane Irma. Photo by Daniel Smith, Cyclone Testing Station.
Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC researcher Dr Daniel Smith is part of an international team assessing the impacts from Hurricane Irma in Florida.
Ed Pikusa and Holger Maier receive their outstanding achievement award from Dr Richard Thornton.
A cluster team and PhD student have been recognised with CRC awards at AFAC17 powered by INTERSCHUTZ, the CRC's annual conference held in collaboration with AFAC in Sydney recently.
Alex Wolkow assessed how sleep deprivation and stress impacted on firefighter performance.
The next round of funding is available for the CRC’s Tactical Research Fund, established to support short-duration research projects to meet the near term needs of Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC partners.
Celeste Young presenting at the 2017 Research Forum
For a second straight year, the attendance record was broken at AFAC17 powered by INTERSCHUTZ, with more than 3,200 emergency service managers, volunteers, researchers and industry representatives gathering in Sydney...
CRC sign
New journal articles and reports on CRC research are available online.
Ngarkat, Sth Australia, fire and smoke
New fire modelling software, teaching kids about bushfire and research on Cyclone Debbie are all covered in the latest edition of Fire Australia.
Future versions of Amicus will hopefully include a searchable database, allowing comparisons with historical fires, such as Black Saturday (pictured), in similar conditions. Photo: Country Fire Authority
New prediction software developed by CSIRO is helping to combine the complex science of fire behaviour prediction with the expert knowledge needed to fill in the gaps.
Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service
School curriculum changes have made the study of bushfire impacts compulsory for NSW primary students in Year 5 and 6, giving fire agencies a unique opportunity to improve community resilience
An aerial shot of the damage from the Margaret River fire in 2011
Prescribed burning can be a highly effective bushfire mitigation strategy, but despite good science, planning and practice, it is an inherently risky business.
Photo: NSW State Emergency Service
CRC research is investigating the impacts of Cyclone Debbie and helping to inform mitigation and resilience to severe wind

News archives

All the resources from our 2016 conference

Research program in detail

Where, why and how are Australians dying in floods?

2015-2016 year in review

Bushfire planning with kids ebook

Explore by keyword