Newsletter for the ICSM Water Special Interest Group (WSIG) Spring 2014

In September 2014, the Permanent Committee on Topographic Information (PCTI) reviewed the scope of all working groups, this included the Water Special Interest Group (WSIG). The next PCTI meeting will discuss requirements for each working group. For this reason the next Water SIG teleconference is yet to be scheduled.

GA Update

Shane Crossman, Leader, National Water Information Team, Geoscience Australia

Over the last few months GA has finalised the revision of the hydrologically–enforced DEM, DEM streams and catchment boundaries over Pilbara – Gascoyne (PG) and South East Coast Victoria (SEV) Drainage Divisions. The Bureau of Meteorology intends to release these revised Drainage Divisions shortly as part of the Geofabric product suite.

Work is continuing on the integration and maintenance of National Surface Hydrology dataset (Aushydro). The North East Coast Drainage Division has been finalised by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (QLD) and will be shortly integrated into the national model.

GA is aiming to release a new web service of its 1:250k water dataset in the first quarter of next year which will see some major enhancements to the existing products including improved spatial accuracy, connectivity and geo–processing capability.

Using WOfS to redefine Perenniality for the National Surface Hydrology Dataset

Figure 1. 1:250k topographic data of perennial water bodies.

GA has been developing a method to classify perenniality across Australia using the Water Observation from Space (WOfS) to improve classification of water body features in the National Surface Water Dataset (Aushydro). The WOfS product is an analysis of water observations over the period of the Landsat Imagery archive which allows users to derive time profiles of observations per Landsat pixel (30 x 30metres).

A pilot study over Tasmania and Menindee Lakes used WOfS data to derive indicators of perenniality for each water body polygon in the National Surface Water Database.

Classification of perenniality for water features requires knowledge of the amount of water a feature holds over time; for Australian this is typically over a 10 year cycle. Figure 1 shows 1:250k topographic representation of the large water bodies as being perennial in the Menindee Lakes area.

Figure 2. WOfS observed water classification.

Figure 2 shows the indicators of perenniality are not the same as indicated in the topographic data. The WOfS information indicates for the northern features (blue) detected an 80% observation of water (permanent water bodies) over the period of the archive compared to the green in the south of detecting 20% of observation of water (waterbodies often dry out).

The next phase is for each time profile to be classified into metrics including maximum duration of inundation, maximum duration of drought and percentage of water seen over the whole time period. GA aims to process all water body features in the 1:250k network with WOfS by June 2015 which will include a new perennially guide and investigate options for attributing perennaility of streams. In reviewing perennialty GA will be as a starting point adopting ISO standards with consultation with domain experts and the Water SIG.

For more information about Water Observation from Space dataset go to

Geofabric Update

Matthew Brooks, Geofabric Project Manager, Bureau of Meteorology

The Bureau’s Geofabric team have been busy developing a pilot monitoring point data package and processing input data for two Geofabric Version 3 drainage divisions. Also as part of water week activities, the Bureau released two new products, the National Groundwater Explorer and Water Data Online. A new Geofabric video has also been released.

A pilot network monitoring point data package has been developed to improve usability of monitoring point features in Version 2.1.1. A stand–alone pilot monitoring point dataset is available with links to Water Data Online time series data. Development is underway for a future sample toolset update which will allow downloading of multiple monitoring point Water Data Online time series data records in a package ready for use with related Geofabric features.

Version 3 Pilbara–Gascoyne and South East Coast Victoria drainage division data is being processed into Geofabric products in preparation for release. Beta releases will be made available to testers by the end of the year. If you are interested in participating in Beta testing, please let the Geofabric team know via

During Water Week the Bureau released the Australian Groundwater Explorer, a web mapping portal for visualising, analysing and downloading Australian groundwater data. The Explorer contains bore and bore–log information for over 800,000 sites, as well as contextual datasets, such as surface geology and sedimentary basins. Interactive maps let you pan and zoom to particular locations, and selected information can be analysed and accessed as tables or graphs. Advanced search functionality allows you to combine multiple scenarios to search for bores based on their attributes, data availability and location.

Water Data Online was also released during Water Week, and provides a single access point to nationally consistent, timely data from thousands of water monitoring stations across Australia. You can now find standardised watercourse level and watercourse discharge data from approximately 3500 water monitoring stations around Australia. Over time, more stations and parameters will become available.

A new Geofabric video is also available which shows how the Geofabric is like a digital street directory of Australia’s important water features. The video explains the various products and shows how the Geofabric works seamlessly across the country. It also demonstrates how you can trace the flow-directed stream network and create customised catchments, with this functionality widely used to inform environmental and natural resource management and reporting.

To access the Geofabric or for further information, visit To express interest in becoming a Geofabric tester or to provide feedback, send details to

New South Wales’ Hydro Program

Leanne Mills, Supervisor Topography & Mapping Programs, NSW Land and Property Information

Land and Property Information (LPI) are continuously improving the hydrology content and accuracy of the Digital Topographic Database given its importance at both a national and state level. During September, LPI started another collaborative project with Geoscience Australia to update the rural buildings and farms dams within 360,000 sq km of NSW. The update will be using 50cm and 10cm resolution imagery that was not available during the initial upgrade of water storages to meet the Bureau of Meteorology specification. This initiative, managed through the National Topographic Information Coordination Initiative (NTICI) will again contribute to the Australian Hydrological Geospatial Fabric. The update of rural dams is an important task which will assist with water compliance regulation and emergency management mitigation and response particularly during times of fire and flood.

July 2014 marked the start of the Surface Model Enhancement (SME) Project at LPI which is managed by Stephen McRobert. This project is a continuation of the previous Elevation Surface Model (ESM) Project which was managed by Glenn Jones. The SME Project will run for four years with one of the aims being the creation of a multi-resolution surface model for the whole of NSW. The surface model will be created from both LiDAR and Photogrammetric technologies (plus bathymetric data where available) resulting in bare earth Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and Point Cloud products at various resolutions. A 5m resolution bare earth digital elevation model has been completed for the Namoi Catchment with work continuing north into the Gwydir and Macintyre Catchments. Another component of the SME Project is researching and developing the automatic extraction of hydrology lines from the new DEM data that is being created. The research process has begun for the Namoi Catchment which has an approximate area of 42,000 sq km (see Figures 3 & 4 below) .

Figure 3. 5m resolution bare earth digital elevation model of the Namoi Catchment created from photogrammetrically derived point clouds.

Figure 4. Hydrology lines automatically extracted from the Namoi Catchment 5m DEM displayed in Google Earth..

FSDF Update

The Water Sponsor (Bureau of Meteorology) has submitted a three–year road map to ANZLIC for review at the November 2014 meeting on 6–7 November. Once approved the road map will published on the ANZLIC webpage.

This newsletter is compiled by Geoscience Australia with some articles received from contributors. Therefore Geoscience Australia cannot guarantee that the information is totally accurate or complete and you should not rely solely on this information when making a commercial decision.

Previous newsletters

  • Autumn 2014
  • Winter 2014