Innovation and projects

Australia's water information is held by over 200 separate organisations—each with their own data collection and reporting methods. This makes it difficult to build a national picture of the nation's water resources.

WIRADA was formed in response to the technical and scientific challenge of delivering national water information to Australia and to support the Bureau's newly legislated functions to:

  • Collect, hold, manage, interpret and disseminate our water information
  • Report on the status, use and trends of Australia's water resources
  • Maintain a comprehensive set of water accounts for the nation
  • Issue national standards for water information
  • Predict future water availability
  • Provide advice and commission investigations to enhance our understanding of Australia's water resources.

Research themes for improved water information

To meet this challenge, existing knowledge and methods needed to be pushed and translated into working products and services. Together CSIRO and the Bureau identified the strategic research needed and set this out in the WIRADA science plans:

Under these Science Plans, research is conducted on four themes:

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Water information systems and informatics

To collate and use water data regardless of where it comes from required that it be consistent and comparable. The Bureau needed new systems, tools and standards to:

  • develop a common water information language format to standardise how Australia manages and shares water data
  • automate and facilitate reliable data delivery and sharing across data management systems
  • manage information models and automate common workflows for the use of hydrological and spatial data such as data ingest and mapping, quality assurance and calibration.

Thirteen projects were initiated to address these challenges:

1.2 Hydrologists workbench (345KB)
1.3 Australian hydrological geospatial fabric design
1.4 Water data transfer standards
1.5 Sustainable water information models
1.6 Australian Spatial Research Data Commons (Associate Project)
1.7 Distributed Real-Time Water Information System
1.8 Describing and transforming adhoc water data
1.9 Bedding-down the Geofabric
1.10 Spatial Information Services Stack for the Bureau
1.11 Tools and documentation
1.12 WaterML2.0 – part 2, leveraging international standards
1.13 Informatics – WaterML2 and Geofabric
1.14 Informatics - data services (2015-16)

Foundational datasets

The capability to analyse, model and predict Australia's water resources and streamflow required continent-wide accurate and high resolution estimates of elevation (topography), rainfall, evapotranspiration and flood inundation.

Two projects were initiated to address these challenges:

2.1 One-second continental DEM (363KB)
2.2 Foundation data products (406KB)

Water balance modelling and assessment

To account for water resources and their use and to assess long-term trends required capability to model the distribution and movement of water across Australia's landscape and rivers. Given gaps in observations across Australia, the challenge was how to ensure that modelled information was consistent and reliable when applied across a range of scales.

Six projects were initiated to address this challenge:

3.0 Australian Water Resources Assessment (AWRA) (508KB)
3.1 Water resources assessment and accounting
3.2 AWRA system integration
3.3 AWRA model development
3.4 AWRA dynamic land cover and landscape water
3.5 AWRA model-data fusion
3.6 AWRA modelling system development

Streamflow forecasts and future water availability

Flood management and optimal river and water resources management require reliable water forecasts. WIRADA worked to extend the Bureau's existing event-based flood warnings, as well as develop continuous streamflow forecasts out to 7-days and seasonal predictions of flows for months ahead and beyond.

Seven projects were initiated to address these challenges:

4.1 Water forecasting and prediction – short term (346KB)
4.2 Water forecasting and prediction – seasonal to long term (286KB)
4.3 Flood and short-term streamflow forecasting
4.4 Seasonal water forecasting
5.0 Improving rainfall forecasts (391Kb)
5.1 Seamless rainfall forecasts
5.2 Towards improved short-range NWP precipitation forecasts
5.3 Improving multi-week rainfall predictions


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