Hydraulic modelling in Australia: A change of perspective

I’m lucky enough to have been working with JBPacific for 6 months on a transfer from our parent company, JBA Consulting, in the UK. I’m usually based in Edinburgh, Scotland but I had a feeling the Scottish winter of 2019 was going to be a grim one so I boarded a plane and started working in our Brisbane office.

Aside from the absence of icey winds and haggis there’s been some serious adjusting to the scale of things here. A large part of my work involves developing hydraulic models of watercourses and coastal assets. My previous biggest TUFLOW model was a 20km long section of the River Tweed (the Scottish one!) for a flood study in the small town of Peebles. The valley isn’t exactly narrow by UK standards, but the maximum width of the floodplain is only about 450m, with rolling hills on either side.

Now my definition of ‘big’ has changed.

My first model working in Brisbane was for a flood study in Northern Queensland, north of Julia Creek. It’s difficult to comprehend just how big and flat the catchment here is but the image below hopefully gives a sense of its enormity. The floodplain is over 120 times wider than my biggest Scottish model. Each box hovering above the map in the image below is about the size of the Scottish model - you need almost 200 of those to cover the area that’s been modelled in the Australian study.

Working on projects like this in Australia has been a great eye-opener and a really useful step in my career. It’ll require a bit of adjustment going back to the UK too.

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