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Federal Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency – Vistool: Visualising Sea Level Rise

The Challenge

Australia is a coastal society. Around 85% of the population lives in the coastal region and it is of immense economic, social and environmental importance to the nation. Understanding the risks to infrastructure and private property is particularly important for highly populated urban areas.

The DCCEE funded the CRC-SI to deliver the Urban Digital Elevation Modelling in High Priority Regions (UDEM) project. Through this project, six priority urban coastal areas were identified, including; South-East Queensland (including Brisbane and Gold Coast); Hunter and Central Coast (NSW); Sydney; Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth (to south of Mandurah).

Within 200m of the coastline are many facilities supporting the delivery of community and emergency services. Nationally, 258 police, fire and ambulance stations, five power stations/sub stations, 75 hospitals and health services, 41 landfill sites, three water treatment plants, and 11 emergency services facilities.

The purpose of this project was to deliver an online scenario planning tool to assist Government bodies across Australia to visualise the effects of sea level rising and communicate the risks to these priority urban coastal areas.

NGIS’ Solution

VisTool uses a customised web-mapping system (GeoSamba) and incorporates high-resolution spatial data including LiDAR, together with a full suite of training and support. It has functionality that allows users to “play” with different sea levels and assess the effects.

Through the CRC-SI ‘s Urban Digital Elevation Modelling in High Priority Regions (UDEM) project, high resolution elevation data and imagery (with a vertical accuracy of approximately +/- 10-15cm) was acquired for the six priority urban coastal areas.

The maps were developed using Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) to map the ground surface topography.. The DEMs have been further processed to provide a better appreciation of how the water would flow over the land including streams and channels.

Sea level rise values were combined with a nominal highest astronomical tide (HAT) value to illustrate an event that can be expected to occur at least once a year, but possibly more frequently, by 2100.

The maps were developed using Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) to map the ground surface topography.. The DEMs have been further processed to provide a better appreciation of how the water would flow over the land including streams and channels.

Sea level rise values were combined with a nominal highest astronomical tide (HAT) value to illustrate an event that can be expected to occur at least once a year, but possibly more frequently, by 2100.

Key Benefits

  • An intuitive tool – with a potentially large user base, the tool had to be very simple to use, well supported, stable and self-sufficient. Research was conducted of the user community and any functions not required removed, user manuals and FAQ sheets provided and a tool added to “play” with sea level rising
  • A custom-built tool to meet the project requirements – the requirements were very specific and no tool existed off-the-shelf. GeoSamba was chosen due to its ability to be customised, its speed, flexibility and it’s ability to handle real, high resolution, spatially accurate data.
  • Good system performance despite large amounts of data – the choice of GeoSamba meant that all data processing happened on the server, with very “thin” packets of data being passed through to the user. Data was configured to allow for speed.
  • Allowance for massive spikes of activity – With the public interest in climate change we had to manage when the site was launched in December 2010, which could hinder performance. A risk management plan included a staggered release of the logins and passwords over a period of time allowed for a smoother access and lowered the peak load on the system. In addition, static maps demonstrating low, medium and high level sea rises for all areas were created and put on a public web site www.ozcoasts.org.au
  • Externally hosted system – a secure, external hosting arrangement that catered for the extra-ordinary amounts of high resolution data was arranged.

 

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