Aquatic Ecodynamics

Aquatic Modelling


The AED research group has a long history of applied research and collaboration with government and the private sector. Currently our ARC linkage partners and industry clients span all States in Australia where our modelling tools and experience are actively used to support river basin management.

Specifically our group provides expertise in:

  • Management of lakes and reservoirs experiencing water quality problems (cyanobacterial blooms, pathogens etc,)
  • Quantifying habitat response of rivers, floodplans and wetlans to changes in hydrology
  • Setting and assessing the benefit of environmental flows
  • Developing models and decision support systems for catchment systems

Selected case studies are outlined below:

Acidification risk of the Lower Murray

For the period from 2008-2010 the Lower Lakes at the end of the Murray River experienced rapid drawdown due to an ongoing and severe drought. In collaboration wth the SA Government and SA Water Corporation we developed an advanced modelling system using the 3D ELCOM-CAEDYM model platform coupled with a novel Acid Sulfate Soil model to assess acidification risk.

Quantifying the benefit of environmental flows

Forthe past two years we have worked with a range of experts from SARDI, the University of Adelaide and SA Government to quantify the benefit of environmental flows. This has inovled application of 3D models for assessment of habitat quality and nutrient budgets to guide the impacts of hydrological changes.

Modelling the effectiveness of artificial oxygenation in the Swan-Canning estuary

Reduced flows in the Swan River catchments have led to reduced flushing of nutrients and organic matter in the Swan-Canning estuarine system, and changes in the stratification patterns observed within the estuary. In addition, land-use changes within the catchment have increased the organic loading to the estuary. As a result, hypoxia and anoxia in the upper Swan and Canning rivers is a now a persistent management challenge, with detrimental effects on estuarine biodiversity and the overall amenity and health of the river. Artificial oxygenation has been a remediation strategy for poor water quality in the upper reaches of the Canning River for more than 16 years, and in the upper Swan River for the past 6 years. There are currently two oxygenation plants on each of the Swan and Canning rivers (and a third plant on the Canning is planned). These oxygenation plants pump oxygen-depleted water from near the riverbed, supersaturate it with oxygen, and return the newly oxygenated water to the bottom waters of the estuary. Although weekly monitoring of water quality and intensive operational trials around the plants shows obvious improvements in oxygen status due to artificial oxygenation, it is challenging to quantitatively assess the effectiveness of these plants in the dynamic estuarine environment. Researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) were engaged in late 2011 to build coupled hydrodynamic-biogeochemical models for the oxygenated zones in the Swan and Canning Rivers. These models aimed to integrate the substantial data sets which have been collected on water and sediment quality in the rivers and provide a predictive tool for management. By modelling the dynamic estuarine environments with and without oxygenation intervention, a quantitative measure of the effectiveness of the oxygenation plants was obtained. Cost-benefit analysis for different operational scenarios were therefore able to be evaluated.

Developing an advanced decision support system for the Lake Toolibin Recovery Catchment