Extraordinary flood mapping project influencing the way we prepare for floods in Australia

Alana Deghelli Alana Deghelli February 28, 2023

2 min read

In 2016 and 2018, devastating floods affected Tasmania, resulting in millions of dollars in damage and leaving communities recovering from significant losses. Following these events the Tasmanian and Australian governments funded the Tasmanian Flood Mapping Project to better understand the statewide flood risk, help build stronger community resilience, and support effective emergency response and recovery decision making.

SES Tasmania (SES) are supported in this project with the expertise of WMAwater, Indicium Dynamics, and Autodesk. Autodesk’s own InfoWorks ICM has been used to create a digital twin to model flood events and provide the right tools and intelligence to SES and its emergency management partners. 

Predicted Deloraine, Tasmania flooding generated by InfoWorks ICM.

Tasmania Flood Mapping Project Progress

In the first 90 days of the project, Indicium Dynamics provided the IT infrastructure and platform support for the project, including setting up of automated software deployment and upgrades for improved system management and disaster recovery.

WMAwater completed their first fully integrated hydrology and 2D model for a pilot catchment to validate and fine tune the methodology in intuitive platform InfoWorks ICM. 

In the first-year, base information for the digital twin was improved, the strategic modelling environment was established, and hydrologic and hydrodynamic models for large historic flood events across Tasmania were calibrated. This was followed by delivery of 0.5%, 1%, and 2% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) current climate and future climate strategic flood maps for most of mainland Tasmania.

Impacts of floodwater around Deloraine, Tasmania.

Record major flooding occurred in Tasmania during October 2022. Within 48 hours of the major peaks occurring for the initial flood event, flood modelling experts at WMAwater and SES used the strategic modeling environment with observed and forecast rainfall data to produce impact maps for the majority of flood affected areas. The maps provided initial estimates of flood affected properties, and were used to prioritise aerial and on-ground impact assessments and to inform recovery planning at a local, state and national government levels.

When further major flooding was forecast for the Meander River the team used the strategic modelling environment and forecast rainfall data to deliver predictive impact maps 12 hours before the rain started to fall. These maps were used to inform operational response strategies, and public information and warnings.

A comparison of the InfoWorks ICM peak extent output using forecast rainfall and drone images against the actual peak for the major flood at Deloraine in October 2022.

The project has already proven valuable in allowing SES Tasmania to improve their response times in flood events. To further reduce response times and reliance on others, they plan to continue the rapid development of their flood prediction and analysis capabilities by automating the ingestion of Weather Bureau forecast data and production of flood prediction and impact assessment maps. 

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