We’re using 3D flood modelling and visualisation to help inform disaster planning and infrastructure needs.

The Challenge

The frequency of flood events is rising

In 2011 Melbourne’s City of Port Phillip had an extraordinary flood event. This demonstrated, quite clearly, what the area might be facing in terms of future flooding with sea level rise and increased rainfall.

The area traditionally floods because it’s built on swamp land, so it gets a significant amount of rainfall that doesn’t have anywhere to go. If the coastal conditions, like storm surge, or a king tide cause some restrictions on the coastline, this can further increase the chances of a flooding event.

Our Response

Introducing 3D flood modelling

A clear understanding of flood behaviour gives emergency managers and planners the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about risks and infrastructure requirements.

Using computational fluid dynamics, we’ve developed a high resolution 3D flood modelling technique that delivers realistic water simulations including difficult-to-model behaviours such as wave motion, flow of solids, wave fragmentation and splashing.

[Music plays text appears: Modelling better flood responses in Port Phillip Bay]

[Image changes to show an emergency response vehicle with lights and sirens on racing down a wet road. Text appears: 2011 Floods, Elwood Canal, Melbourne]

[Camera pans over the flooded streets to show submerged cars and houses]

[Image changes to show Lalitha Ramachandran, Senior Project Manager Sustainability, City of Port Phillip]

Lalitha Ramachandran: In 2011 we had an extraordinary flood event and it demonstrated, quite clearly, what we might be facing in terms of future flooding with sea level rise and increased rainfall.

[An aerial shot of the flooded streets appears on screen. Submerged roads and houses can be seen]

The area traditionally floods because we’ve built on swamp land, so we get quite a bit of rainfall that doesn’t have anywhere to go, and if the coastal conditions, like storm surge, or a king tide cause some restrictions on the coastline you tend to get flooding events. So the flood modelling that we’re doing is basically to get an idea of what future flooding might look like for the city. Other than doing that what we want to be able to do with the CSIRO project is actually start to model some of the solutions we’re thinking about, in terms of future flooding to see whether they’re effective.

[Image changes to show Mahesh Prakash, Project Leader, Digital Productivity Flagship, CSIRO]

Mahesh Prakash: Essentially what the program does is it gets the information about the urban infrastructure, things like the canal also the weather forecast data and it comes up with a visual representation of what might happen if there was flooding.

[A computer generated image of the streets and indication of potential water depths appears on screen. Houses and a waterway can be seen with sections highlighted in different colours dependent on the predicted water level]

It also allows you to start putting in these mitigation options and actually evaluating them to test what’s going on before committing the money to actually build infrastructure.

[Image has changed back to Lalitha and then to aerial pictures of the canal and the houses that run alongside it]

Lalitha Ramachandran: From the perspective of the average engineer, or council decision maker, it would be a really vital tool, because it will actually assist us to ascertain which solutions might be effective for what scenarios and for what period. That then gives us a relatively good starting point for negotiating what infrastructure needs to go down at what cost, when.

[Logos appear, from left to right of screen. City of Port Phillip and CSIRO]

[Music plays and CSIRO logo appears with text: Big ideas start here www.csiro.au]

City of Port Phillip flood modelling

The program takes information about urban infrastructure and conditions – such as canals and weather forecast data – and comes up with a visual representation of what might happen if there was flooding.

The Results

Informed decision making

Compared to traditional ‘bucket-fill’ methods, our fluid modelling technique provides greater insight into fluid flow impacts at the local level.

Armed with this detailed knowledge, the City of Port Phillip now has a stronger understanding of what future flooding in the area might look like.

It has also allowed their planners and engineers to start to model possible mitigation solutions in order to evaluate their effectiveness.

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