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Byron Shire
May 9, 2021

Bath time’s over for computer models

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It’s time for computer models of tsunamis and storm surges to get out of the bath, according to a CSIRO researcher speaking at the Coast to Coast Conference in Brisbane yesterday. More realistic models are needed for infrastructure planners and emergency managers to better prepare for disasters.

CSIRO fluids modeller Mahesh Prakash said that his team’s maths-based models are more true-to-life than the standard ‘bathtub’ models and that CSIRO leads the world in this area of fluids modelling.

‘Our work is a big improvement on the simple “bathtub” computer models which show water levels going up evenly like they do when you fill your bath.

‘The reality of a storm surge or tsunami is very different – the water is moving, often with a lot of force and it interacts with things that get in its way.’

With coastal storms increasing in frequency and severity and last year’s tsunami in Japan still in recent memory, understanding coastal inundation processes is more important than ever – and computer models can help, according to CSIRO.

CSIRO’s models can show how fast the water moves, how soon it reaches natural and manmade landscape features, how long it stays at peak levels, the size of the forces it generates on specified buildings, bridges, roads and other structures and whether these structures are recoverable.

The computer models are the result of more than a decade’s work in computer algorithms and supercomputers.

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