Spatial decision support system for coastal flood management in Victoria, Australia

Baby, S 2020, Spatial decision support system for coastal flood management in Victoria, Australia, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Science, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Spatial decision support system for coastal flood management in Victoria, Australia
Author(s) Baby, S
Year 2020
Abstract Coastal climate impact can affect coastal areas in a variety of ways, such as flooding, storm surges, reduction in beach sands and increased beach erosion. While each of these can have major impacts on the operation of coastal drainage systems, this thesis focuses on coastal and riverine flooding in coastal areas.

Coastal flood risk varies within Australia, with the northern parts in the cyclone belt most affected and high levels of risk similar to other Asian countries. However, in Australia, the responsibility for managing coastal areas is shared between the Commonwealth government, Australian states and territories, and local governments. Strategies for floodplain management to reduce and control flooding are best implemented at the land use planning stage. Local governments make local decisions about coastal flood risk management through the assessment and approval of planning permit applications. Statutory planning by local government is informed by policies related to coastal flooding and coastal erosion, advice from government departments, agencies, experts and local community experts.

The West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) works with local communities, Victorian State Emergency Services (VCSES), local government authorities (LGAs), and other local organizations to prepare the West Gippsland Flood Management Strategy (WGFMS). The strategy aims at identifying significant flood risks, mitigating those risks, and establishing a set of priorities for implementation of the strategy over a ten-year period.

The Bass Coast Shire Council (BCSC) region has experienced significant flooding over the last few decades, causing the closure of roads, landslides and erosion. Wonthaggi was particularly affected during this period with roads were flooded causing the northern part of the city of Wonthaggi to be closed in the worst cases. Climate change and increased exposure through the growth of urban population have dramatically increased the frequency and the severity of flood events on human populations.

Traditionally, while GIS has provided spatial data management, it has had limitations in modelling capability to solve complex hydrology problems such as flood events. Therefore, it has not been relied upon by decision-makers in the coastal management sector. Functionality improvements are therefore required to improve the processing or analytical capabilities of GIS in hydrology to provide more certainty for decision-makers.

This research shows how the spatial data (LiDAR, Road, building, aerial photo) can be primarily processed by GIS and how by adopting the spatial analysis routines associated with hydrology these problems can be overcome. The aim of this research is to refine GIS-embedded hydrological modelling so they can be used to help communities better understand their exposure to flood risk and give them more control about how to adapt and respond. The research develops a new Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) to improve the implementation of coastal flooding risk assessment and management in Victoria, Australia. It is a solution integrating a range of approaches including, Light Detection and Ranging (Rata et al., 2014), GIS (Petroselli and sensing, 2012), hydrological models, numerical models, flood risk modelling, and multi-criteria techniques.

Bass Coast Shire Council is an interesting study region for coastal flooding as it involves (i) a high rainfall area, (ii) and a major river meeting coastal area affected by storm surges, with frequent flooding of urban areas. Also, very high-quality Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data is available from the Victorian Government to support first-pass screening of coastal risks from flooding. The methods include using advanced GIS hydrology modelling and LiDAR digital elevation data to determine surface runoff to evaluate the flood risk for BCSC. This methodology addresses the limitations in flood hazard modelling mentioned above and gives a logical basis to estimate tidal impacts on flooding, and the impact and changes in atmospheric conditions, including precipitation and sea levels. This study examines how GIS hydrological modelling and LiDAR digital elevation data can be used to map and visualise flood risk in coastal built-up areas in BCSC. While this kind of visualisation is often used for the assessment of flood impacts to infrastructure risk, it has not been utilized in the BCSC.

Previous research identified terrestrial areas at risk of flooding using a conceptual hydrological model (Pourali et al., 2014b) that models the flood-risk regions and provides flooding extent maps for the BCSC. It examined the consequences of various components influencing flooding for use in creating a framework to manage flood risk. The BCSC has recognised the benefits of combining these techniques that allow them to analyse data, deal with the problems, create intuitive visualization methods, and make decisions about addressing flood risk.

The SDSS involves a GIS-embedded hydrological model that interlinks data integration and processing systems that interact through a linear cascade. Each stage of the cascade produces results which are input into the next model in a modelling chain hierarchy. The output involves GIS-based hydrological modelling to improve the implementation of coastal flood risk management plans developed by local governments.

The SDSS also derives a set of Coastal Climate Change (CCC) flood risk assessment parameters (performance indicators), such as land use, settlement, infrastructure and other relevant indicators for coastal and bayside ecosystems. By adopting the SDSS, coastal managers will be able to systematically compare alternative coastal flood-risk management plans and make decisions about the most appropriate option. By integrating relevant models within a structured framework, the system will promote transparency of policy development and flood risk management.

This thesis focuses on extending the spatial data handling capability of GIS to integrate climatic and other spatial data to help local governments with coastal exposure develop programs to adapt to climate change. The SDSS will assist planners to prepare for changing climate conditions. BCSC is a municipal government body with a coastal boundary and has assisted in the development and testing of the SDSS and derived many benefits from using the SDSS developed as a result of this research. Local governments at risk of coastal flooding that use the SDSS can use the Google Earth data sharing tool to determine appropriate land use controls to manage long-term flood risk to human settlement. The present research describes an attempt to develop a Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) to aid decision makers to identify the proper location of new settlements where additional land development could be located based on decision rules. Also presented is an online decision-support tool that all stakeholders can use to share the results.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Science
Subjects Geospatial Information Systems
Keyword(s) Coastal
Drainage systems
Sea Level Rise
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Created: Wed, 13 May 2020, 09:22:07 EST by Adam Rivett
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