National water balance estimates
Effective water resource policy and planning requires comprehensive, consistent and robust information on water generation, distribution, storage, availability and use.
To meet this need, the Bureau of Meteorology delivers National Water Accounts and Water Resource Assessments, providing crucial information for managers, planners and policy makers.
However, data on Australia’s water resources are patchy and of varying quantity and quality, and in many areas, non-existent.
Australian Water Resources Assessment modelling system
We developed the Australian Water Resources Assessment (AWRA) modelling system. This continental-to-regional scale water balance modelling system supports reporting and assessment of water flows and stores on a daily time scale at a spatial resolution of five kilometres.
The AWRA modelling system innovatively combines in-situ and satellite observations with state-of-the-art hydrological modelling. The AWRA modelling system has a landscape model component and a river model component that were developed and validated against a range of data sources.
For the first time, we have a tool that can consistently account for important aspects of water resources, including runoff and river flow, soil water storage, groundwater recharge and vegetation water use, for all areas in Australia.
Reliable water accounting and water resources assessment
As a result of this work, the Bureau now provides interactive information from AWRA through the Australian Landscape Water Balance website. Here, up-to-date information from AWRA can be visualised, investigated and downloaded at the continent, catchment and point scale. The information is available at a daily, monthly and annual time scales from 1911 onwards, providing timely information for water resources assessment and planning.
The AWRA outputs are also used by the Bureau to deliver National Water Accounts, Water Resources Assessments and Water in Australia reports. These Bureau products provide basin, regional and national water perspectives. They help us understand the present state of water resources across the continent and its variation over the last century.