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

Learning from past experiences is integral to emergency management. Photo: South Australia SES (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Two CRC end-users have spoken about their first-hand experiences being involved in a research project that is shaping the way emergency managers think, learn and communicate information to their teams in highly...

Dr Mel Taylor, EMPA research award 2018
CRC research on how to best plan for animals in an emergency has taken out the inaugural Emergency Media and Public Affairs (EMPA) research award, while another project on emergency warnings has been highly commended.
Peter Middleton's research is improving communication in Tasmania's emergency services.
CRC associate student researcher Peter Middleton says his recent experience at the latest Research Advisory Forum in Sydney has enhanced the way he presents his research.
During emergencies, individuals and teams often work under considerable pressure. Photo: New Zealand Fire Service.
There is a lot happening at an incident management centre when a bushfire, flood or cyclone occurs but two checklists are helping emergency management teams carry out effective teamwork.
Science is helping our emergency services keep us safe.
Conducting research is one thing, but applied research that partners scientists and emergency management experts together, resulting in real world outcomes, is another altogether.
An interviewee shows a researcher the impact the bushfire had on his property. Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service.
In January and February 2017, New South Wales faced some of the worst bushfire conditions ever forecast for the state, including Catastrophic fire danger ratings for many communities. During this time, a number of large...
Coaching and mentoring are relationship-based activities that require cooperation. Photo: Department of Biodiversity, Conversations and Attractions WA.
A vital new resource, backed by research, explores how coaching and mentoring builds incident management team capability for the emergency management sector.
Drivers for the coaching and mentoring resource include unique demands on IMT roles. Photo: Victoria State Emergency Service
Issue Two of Fire Australia for 2018 includes stories on two tools that are resolving breakdowns in teamwork, the findings from three catastrophic bushfires in NSW and a showcase of the latest CRC research that is...
Dr Mel Parsons informing stakeholders on her work on the Australian Natural Disaster Resilience Index.
Around 50 people from across the ACT were briefed last week on several key research projects underway at the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC.
Dr Josh Whitaker presents his findings on three catastrophic bushfires. Photo: Anthony Clark.
CRC research into communication and community engagement was front and centre in Coffs Harbour last week at the Australian Community Engagement and Fire Awareness Conference.

News archives

AFAC17 logo

AFAC17 logo

All the resources from our 2017 conference

National research priorities for natural hazards

National research priorities for natural hazards

National priorities for research

The Sir Ivan fire. Photo: Nick Moir, Fairfax Media

The Sir Ivan fire. Photo: Nick Moir, Fairfax Media

Research findings from 2017 NSW fires

Four years of highlights

Bushfire planning with kids ebook

Explore by keyword