Water Information Research and Development Alliance

The Water Information Research and Development Alliance (WIRADA) is a partnership between the Bureau of Meteorology and The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. WIRADA brings together CSIRO's leading expertise in water and information sciences and the Bureau’s operational role in hydrological analysis and prediction to deliver value-added water information products and tools.

The initial $50 million investment during 2008 to 2013 delivered significant scientific and research innovation required by the Bureau to fulfil its national water information mandate. A snapshot of the outstanding achievements made by WIRADA previously is available for download. Details on the achievements of WIRADA are also in annual reports under the Key Documents list below.

Further investment in WIRADA is set to continue for the three years from 2013 to 2016. Research priorities are described in the 2013-16 science plan. During this time, we will refine and build on the significant achievements of earlier work in water information systems, water accounting and assessment, and water forecasting and prediction.

WIRADA projects

Current Alliance projects (2013-14)

Current projects include:

Informatics - data services

The informatics project will continue the Bureau’s leadership in developing effective standards for water information exchange. It will also deliver the innovation required for the Bureau to deliver robust and integrated data services. This year’s project will work towards:

  • Acceptance of an international standard for exchange of rating table, gauging, and cross-section information (WaterML 2.0 Part 2.0). Open data standards will improve delivery and sharing of data between the Bureau, Australian water agencies, and stakeholders. Their adoption by vendors will enable data services that are compatible across a wide choice of commercial software, components, and products.
  • Delivery of connected data services through consolidated delivery of a range of water information and well-managed water data vocabularies (computer-readable standard definitions of water related terms). A prototype Linked Data service and demonstration client will show how Linked Data and agreed semantics – that is meanings - can help connect data from different sources. This work will increase our capability to deliver robust and integrated data services to Australia

expected outputs, outcomes and impact of the Informatics - data services project

Figure: expected outputs, outcomes and impact of the Informatics - data services project

AWRA modelling system development

The Australian Water Resources Assessment model (AWRA-MS) project will meet Bureau requirements for high-quality seamless water balance data and information for the nation. AWRA-MS consists of sub-components that represent processes between the atmosphere and the landscape, in gauged rivers, and in groundwater. It uses observations where available, and modelling otherwise, to provide estimates for national to regional scale water balance. This includes aspects of the water cycle such as soil water storage, streamflow, groundwater recharge and vegetation water use. Model outputs are available as continental and regional datasets and inform the Bureau’s National Water Accounts and its Australian Water Resources Assessment reports.

Provision of meaningful estimates of a national water balance for the past and the present is a significant challenge. Considerable work, that makes use of accepted science and recent innovations, has led to a hydrologically credible and conceptually robust model. Our objectives for this year are to:

  • consolidate and extensively test the modelling system against industry benchmarks and comparable models
  • develop a joint calibration and validation approach to fully couple and integrate the surface water-groundwater-river system components
  • transfer system development and maintenance from CSIRO to the Bureau

typical outputs from the AWRA modelling system, across a range of periods and timescales

Figure: typical outputs from the AWRA modelling system, across a range of periods and timescales

Flood and short-term water forecasting

The Bureau seeks to increase the accuracy, warning lead-times, capability, and coverage of its short-term streamflow forecasting services. To achieve this WIRADA research uses a modular framework to develop and evaluate ensemble forecasting methods (see figure below). Our research targets components of the forecasting system that are major sources of uncertainty in forecasts. If we can reduce these uncertainties then we can improve forecast quality (skill and reliability). The focus for this year will be to:

  • Assess performance of ensemble streamflow forecasts produced with the latest-generation rainfall forecasts
  • Improve ensemble forecasts of flood and low flows by testing alternative hydrological models
  • Support post-processing of Numerical Weather Prediction rainfall forecasts for the Short Term Ensemble Prediction System algorithm to better downscale and merge output.
  • Enhance the capabilities of the Bureau’s short-term water information forecasting tool (SWIFT) for operational applications. This includes added functions, and improved performance, documentation and maintainability.

framework for the ensemble flood and short-term streamflow forecasting system (Boxes outlined in blue represent input and output data; boxes outlined in red represent methods and algorithms).

Figure: framework for the ensemble flood and short-term streamflow forecasting system (Boxes outlined in blue represent input and output data; boxes outlined in red represent methods and algorithms).

Seasonal water forecasting

Improved seasonal streamflow forecasts will help water managers and users make better-informed decisions. These include seasonal water allocation, reservoir operations, environmental flow management, water markets, and drought response strategies. The aim of this project is to support the Bureau’s effort to improve seasonal forecasts by developing methods that increase the skill and coverage of current services.

The focus for this year is to evaluate and develop methods to merge current statistical based and dynamical streamflow forecasts. The goal is to take advantage of the strengths of both approaches. We will also continue to develop methods to generate forecast-guided stochastic scenarios out to 12 months. Through these innovations, we aim to:

  • Expand the number of seasonal streamflow forecast sites especially in Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia
  • Extend forecasts beyond the first three months
  • Break down forecasts of total streamflow volumes over three month periods into monthly volumes month by month

the benefits and likely applications for improved water forecasting

Figure: the benefits and likely applications for improved water forecasting

Previous Alliance projects (2008-2013)

Alliance projects from 2008-2013 cover four broad categories:

  • Water information systems
  • Foundation data products
  • Water accounting and assessment
  • Water forecasting and prediction

An overview of the 2008-2013 research program and achievements is available from the WIRADA information sheet (449KB) and achievements brochure. Individual project descriptions can be accessed via the links below.

Key WIRADA Documents

Links

Bureau of MeteorologyCSIROWater Information

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