Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New Methods to Calculate Risk of Floods


University of Adelaide researchers are devising new methods to more accurately estimate long-term flood risk across Australia.

The researchers are examining the possible causes of floods and how they interact with each other. This information is being used to create sophisticated models which will be used by engineers to better calculate flood risks for different locations.

“In the past, engineers have tended to make decisions as though every flood has just a single cause, for example unusually heavy rainfall or an extreme ocean water level,” says Dr Seth Westra, Senior Lecturer in the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering.

“Multiple causes and how they interact have rarely been considered but, ironically, many big floods that have occurred in Australia have been extremely complex, with many different things happening at the same time.”

For instance, Dr Westra says, the devastating Queensland floods of 2011 superficially appeared to be caused by intense rainfall, but the flood wouldn’t have had been so large if the catchments hadn’t already been waterlogged from a very wet spring.

“Accurate assessment of the risk of floods in any particular area is important for town planning and council zoning and in designing flood protection infrastructure like bridges and levees,” says Dr Westra.

“But properly understanding the risk of flooding means we have to assess the likelihood of these different events coinciding - acting together in a synergistic way to cause an extreme flood. For example do you tend to get big storm surges at the same time as heavy rainfall?

“Even when something has never happened in the past, it’s possible that the elements could align in a different way in the future to cause a flood event. Think of Hurricane Sandy in the US, which was brought about by the combination of an extremely unusual set of conditions to wreak havoc in New York. We need to be able to assess what sorts of floods can possibly occur in the future, even if we haven’t observed or recorded similar events.

“In Australia, this estimation is complicated further by the fact that we don’t have great long-term records of flood risk. We’re a relatively new country and in a lot of catchments there may only be 30 years of good data – so we have to make educated guesses as to what might be possible in the future.”

Climate change is adding another dimension to the difficulty of flood risk estimation. “Under climate change, each risk factor will probably change in the future – but it will be a complex picture, much more nuanced than is often reported,” says Dr Westra.

“Certainly some places will see increased floods, but other locations could even see a reduction in flood risk.”

Media Contact:

Dr Seth Westra
Senior Lecturer
School of Civil, Environment and Mining Engineering
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 1538
Mobile: +61 (0)414 997 406

Robyn Mills
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 410 689 084

Robyn Mills | newswise

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>