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 WIRADA projects (2015-16)

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 environmental intelligence data services to Australia. This year's project will work towards:

  • A new open standard for Groundwater data exchange (GWML2.0). Adoption of GWML2.0 as an OGC standard will be the third international hydrological data exchange standard developed through significant contributions from WIRADA. Uptake of GWML2.0 will support sharing of groundwater information between the Bureau, Australian water agencies, and stakeholders. Adoption by vendors will result in data services that are compatible across a range of software and products.
  • Guidance on future Web APIs and completion of the trial of Linked Data services. Existing Bureau data services provide access to weather, climate and water data in discrete services. This limits the opportunity to integrate and add value. New Linked Data services and open web APIs will support development of applications that integrate the broad range of environmental information we provide. It will also allow the Bureau to consolidate data publishing services

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 Bureau's Australian Water Resources Assessment model (AWRA-MS) meets requirements for high-quality seamless water balance data and information for the nation. AWRA-MS sub-components represent processes between the atmosphere and the landscape, in gauged rivers, and in groundwater. The model uses observations where available, and modelling otherwise, to provide estimates for national to regional scale water balances. 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.

Our objectives for this year are to support the adoption of ASWRA-MS and to finish the transition of seven years of CSIRO research into the Bureau's operational model. This year's project includes activities to:

  • Demonstrate the value of AWRA-MS through support of case studies.
  • Refine use of the model through creation of a reliable recharge database for benchmarking and improved flow calibrations that incorporate streamflow quality codes and dynamic gauge weighting.
  • Finalise model documentation, support material and to provide training to users.
  • Present and publish scientific papers that cover the research undertaken in the past 7 years

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, robustness, and coverage of its newly released short-term streamflow forecasting services. Research for 2015-16 will extend work previously undertaken to address barriers to further expansion of the deterministic forecasting service and support the transition to an ensemble service. Specifically the ability to:

  • Produce robust ensemble streamflow forecasts across the broad range of perennial, intermittent and ephemeral catchments the service covers in Australia.
  • Reliably post-process ensemble rainfall forecasts from the next generation of ACCESS numerical weather prediction models to better reflect the likely rainfall in catchments of interest

Science outcomes will inform the configuration of operational forecasting systems and will also be deployed through updates to operational software within the Bureau. We will also enhance the performance and maintainability of software and tools (e.g. the Short-term Water Information and Forecasting Tools, SWIFT2) used for operational forecasting.

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

The Bureau provides seasonal streamflow forecasts of total volumes for the next three months at over 100 locations across Australia. This project will support the Bureau’s effort to improve current seasonal forecast services by developing methods that increase their skill and allow further coverage. 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 focus for this year is to refine the forecast-guided stochastic scenarios (FoGSS) prototype model to extend the lead time of streamflow forecast beyond three months. We will also improve the operational timeliness of forecasts through targeted improvements in the forecast production schedule. Finally, we will adapt the post processing of climate forecast inputs in existing seasonal streamflow forecasting models, to enable use of improved climate forecasts from the Bureau’s new seasonal forecasting system.

Through these innovations, we will:

  • Extend forecasts beyond the first three months
  • Break down forecasts of total streamflow volumes over three month periods into monthly volumes
  • Provide more timely forecasts for the months ahead
  • Support expansion of the number of seasonal streamflow forecast locations
  • Adapt the hydrological modelling systems developed over the last seven years to take advantage of recent advances in climate modelling

the benefits and likely applications for improved water forecasting

Figure: the benefits and likely applications for improved water forecasting

Previous WIRADA projects (2008-2013)

WIRADA 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


Bureau of MeteorologyCSIROWater Information

Creative Commons By Attribution logo
Unless otherwise noted, all material on this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Australia Licence