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Water Information Research and Development Alliance

Improving the management of Australia's water resources through the delivery of value-added water information products.

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Transforming the way Australia manages its water resources information

A decade-long drought followed by downpours and floods: Australia is a continent of climate extremes. The challenges that come with a highly variable climate, together with increasing demand for water and emerging pressure from climate change, emphasise how important it is to manage our nation's water resources well.

In 2008 the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO joined forces to develop innovative, next generation tools and technologies to deliver national water information and services.

In its first four years the Water Information Research and Development Alliance (WIRADA) has delivered significant achievements in improving Australia's water information systems, water accounting, and water forecasting, with national and global impacts.

Key achievements

Water forecasting

The Bureau of Meteorology is the lead agency for providing Australia’s flood forecasting and warning services.

To improve the Bureau’s water forecasting, WIRADA researchers developed science and technology to better predict short-term river flow and floods, and seasonal inflows to river systems across Australia.

More accurate forecasts will help inform decisions by water managers, lead to economic benefits through more efficient irrigation allocations, help meet environmental flow objectives, and improve information for recreational water users.

Water assessment and accounting

To sustainably manage and share our limited water resources, it is essential that we accurately account for how much water is available and how water is used.

As information and observations are collected by numerous public and private organisations that manage water across Australia, and these data are fed into the Bureau of Meteorology’s new and improved information systems.

One use of this information is analysis and publication in regular national water resource assessments and national water accounts.

WIRADA researchers have developed cutting-edge methods and technologies to help the Bureau provide integrated surface water and groundwater resource assessments, water accounts, and water resource outlooks.

Water information systems

In its new expanded role of providing accessible and comprehensive water resources information, the Bureau of Meteorology is required to collate, manage and publish a broad range of water information.

Previously, more than 200 organisations across Australia used a range of collection and reporting methods for water data, making it very difficult to compare the data with any reliability.

WIRADA scientists focused on creating robust systems for water information management, including developing a national standard for the transfer of water information, and making sure the data could be used to improve the management of our water resources.

Continuing research

Research is continuing to further improve the systems and tools already developed and to integrate them into Bureau operations.

Current research is focused on these key areas:

Water ML2.0

Collaboration in developing a new international water data transfer standard (WaterML2.0 Parts 1 and 2) is ensuring water data management in Australia is aligned with world’s best practice in water observations.

The new standards are assisting in the understanding and management of fresh water resources worldwide by enhancing data sharing and exchange.

Download the Water ML2.0 fact sheet [330 KB PDF]

Spatial Information Services Stack for the Bureau

The Spatial Information Services Stack for the Bureau of Meteorology project is helping the Bureau to share spatial data via interoperable standards and services. 

This will allow the Bureau to publish data of national significance in accessible formats, helping to develop a community of practice where Australian industry, government and academic organisations can easily exchange water information.

Download the Sharing spatial research data fact sheet [200 KB PDF]

The Australian Hydrological Geospatial Fabric (Geofabric)

The Australian Hydrological Geospatial Fabric (Geofabric) is a highly specialised geographic information system that is a key information resource for the Bureau of Meteorology in producing its regular water resource assessments and national water accounts. 

This project will bring the Geofabric into its third phase of development, automate some of its processes, and ensure its extended use by transferring management and maintenance knowledge to the Bureau.

Download the Geofabric fact sheet [1.8 MB PDF]

Tools and documentation and Describing and transforming ad hoc water data

Water information systems projects are developing methods and software to support interoperability between the water sector’s different information systems.

A model-driven approach gives the capacity for software applications to evolve easily as requirements for new data also evolve.

The Adhoc software is an example of such a system, providing a user‑friendly web-based application to enable data providers to more easily provide water data to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Download the Making metadata work fact sheet [280 KB PDF]

Data and models for water resource assessment

Australian water resources assessment projects have developed methods and technologies that will enable the Bureau of Meteorology to provide integrated surface and groundwater resource assessments, water accounts and water resource outlooks to Australian governments, business and people.

Download the Data and models for water resource assessment fact sheet [400 KB PDF]

Flood and short-term water forecasting and prediction

The Short-term Water Forecasting and Prediction project is developing methods and tools to improve the Bureau’s operational flood forecasting and generate continuous short‑term stream flow forecasts across Australia.

Download the Short-term water forecasting and prediction fact sheet [380 KB PDF]

Seasonal water forecasting and prediction

The Seasonal Water Forecasting and Prediction project is developing methods and tools for providing reliable forecasts of seasonal inflows to river and storage systems across Australia.

Download the Seasonal water forecasting and prediction fact sheet [280 KB PDF]

Hydro-meteorological research

The Rainfall Prediction projects focus on improving the accuracy, usability and range of Australian rainfall forecasts.

Download the Hydro-meteorological research fact sheet [340 KB PDF]

Completed research

The following projects have been completed, are now part of new projects, or are continuing outside of the Alliance:

  • Sustainable Water Information Models
  • Water data transfer standards
  • Hydrologists workbench
  • Precipitation and actual evapotranspiration products
  • One-second SRTM digital elevation model


Read more about WIRADA's Achievements. [3.42 MB PDF]

More detailed information is available in WIRADA Annual Reports and research output documents.

Read the proceedings from the WIRADA Science Symposium held in August 2011.

The Alliance is guided by the Science Plan [3.42 MB PDF] which outlines the scope of research, and the Implementation Strategy [897 KB PDF] which provides a pointer to tactical investment priorities, maps out at a high level how the research may unfold, and identifies processes to facilitate the transition of research into the Bureau’s water information policies, systems, products and services. 

Dr Robert Argent (PhD)
WIRADA Alliance Director
Bureau of Meteorology
Phone: +61 3 8638 8207
Email: r.argent@bom.gov.au