Recent Question/Assignment

Assignment 1
Due date: 25 August 2017
Weighting: 25% (250 marks)
1. Overview
This assessment is designed to test your achievement of selected learning objectives of Modules 2 to 5. In particular, the assignment involves flood frequency analyses and working with historical streamflow and rainfall data.
The assignment is intended to reinforce and extend your knowledge on hydrological methods and the (substantial) uncertainty associated with design flood estimation.
The purpose of the assignment is to estimate design flood discharges for the Back Creek streamgauge site (Queensland gauge 146014A) for a range of annual exceedance probabilities (50%, 20%, 10%, 5%, 2% and 1% AEPs). The flood frequency analysis (FFA) will be based on consideration of the outputs of four techniques: Annual Series, Partial Series, the Palmen & Weeks method (Palmen and Weeks, 2011) and the new Regional Flood Frequency Estimation (RFFE) developed as part of the AR&R update (Rahman et al, 2015).
The assignment is based on the following main tasks:
• Obtaining and reviewing the streamflow data
• Annual Series FFA based on fitting a log Pearson 3 (LP3) distribution to annual discharge maxima
• Partial Series FFA based on monthly discharge maxima
• Design discharge estimation using the Palmen & Weeks and RFFE methods. A catchment plan will be also be prepared.
• Compilation of the estimates and selection of a set of design flood discharges, based on consideration of the above outputs
• Assessment of the rainfall frequency associated with the January 2008 flood event • Preparation of an assignment report
2. Assignment Tasks
2.1. Streamflow Data
Streamflows and relevant gauging information for station 146014A can be downloaded from the Queensland DNRM Water Monitoring Portal
Access the Portal and find the streamgauge data. Tabulate the following basic gauge information: location (latitude and longitude), the catchment area, when streamgauging started, when rainfall measurements started and the maximum observed instantaneous discharge and when this occurred.
The hydraulic control and associated rating curve are also of interest. Include in your report a photograph of the control weir and an image of the creek cross section at the streamgauge.
Provide an image of the rating curve and the flood gaugings that have been undertaken at the site.
How many gaugings have been done to the end of 2016? What is the highest gauging (level and discharge) and how does this compare with the highest recorded flood? Make a comment of the adequacy of the rating curve based on this information, especially the reliability of the discharges associated with the largest floods.
Download the monthly discharge data from the start of record to the end of the 2015/2016 water year (October-September). Generate a timeseries plot of monthly peak discharges. What percentage of the data is missing (code 255)?
2.2. Annual Series FFA
The Annual Series FFA is to be first undertaken on the following basis:
• Include data for all water years from the start of record to the end of 2015/2016.
• Exclude from the analysis the water years that have 4 or more months of missing flow data. AR&R recommends several approaches to handle missing data, but this simple exclusion method will be used. This may require an adjustment to the number of years of available data N.
• Fit a LP3 distribution to the Annual Series, estimate 5% and 95% confidence limits and prepare a flood frequency chart. Extract the design discharge estimates for the specified AEPs.
2.3 Partial Series FFA
The Partial Series FFA is to be undertaken on the following basis:
• Use the monthly discharge maxima to extract the Partial Series. Monthly discharge maxima are acceptable for small catchments as typically the peaks between months are sufficiently separated by time to be hydrologically independent.
• Use the monthly discharge data from the start of record to the end of the 2015/2016 water year.
• For months with missing data, assume that no floods occurred during these periods. This assumption differs to that made in the Annual Series, so may give a different N to use in the analysis. The value of N can be non-integer.
• For consistency, use K equal to N in defining the Partial Series threshold.
• Plot the Partial Series and, from fitting a suitable regression line, provide design discharge estimates for the specified AEPs. It is appropriate to exclude large floods from the regression analysis.
• Prepare a Partial Series flood frequency chart
2.4 Palmen & Weeks and RFFE design discharge estimates
Source and read the technical paper by Palmen and Weeks (2011). This paper describes a quantile regression method that can be applied in Queensland to estimate peak design discharges.
A topographic map covering the region can be downloaded from StudyDesk. This map has been generated from the Queensland Government online QTopo mapping site. From the topographic map provided, define the Back Creek catchment boundary and measure the catchment area. The Palmen & Weeks method requires an AR&R1987 design rainfall intensity and use the BOM online IFD tool to determine this value. Use the catchment centroid as the location to generate the IFD data. Mark the centroid location on the topographic map. Estimate the design discharges using the Palmen & Weeks method for the specified AEPs.
The Regional Flood Frequency Estimation (RFFE) approach to estimate design peak discharges up to
1% AEP for Australian small to medium sized rural catchments has been developed as part of the
AR&R update. The RFFE method supersedes the probabilistic Rational Method recommended in AR&R 1987. An online tool has been developed to generate RFFE estimates that depend on catchment location and this website can be found at
Details of the RFFE can be found in Rahman et al (2015). Generate a set of design discharge estimates for the Back Creek catchment using the RFFE method.
2.5 Assessment of January 2008 flood rainfalls
The largest recorded floods have an impact on the fitting of a LP3 probability distribution to the Annual Series, more so than the frequent minor floods. It is thus worthwhile investigating the top ranked floods in some detail.
BOM have prepared detailed reports on notable floods in Australia and Queensland reports are available from There are no flood reports for the relatively small Back Creek. However, the February 2009 flood of the Burdekin River provides a typical example of the contents of a flood event report (this report is referred to in the Study Book Module 2).
Download the Burdekin River February 2009 flood report and familiarise yourself with how the hydrological data is analysed and presented. In this part of the assignment, you will be undertaking a frequency analysis of the observed rainfall intensities (but not to the level of detail covered in this example report).
Available pluviograph data is limited for the Back Creek catchment. Rainfall measurements are recorded at the streamgauge and the more recent January 2008 flood was selected for analysis. The objective of the analysis is to determine the frequency of the observed rainfall that fell during the January 2008 flood event.
The rainfall analysis involves the following tasks:
• Access the Water Monitoring Portal, find and plot the recorded flood hydrograph for the January 2008 flood. Include in the plot at least 2 days of flow record after the flood peak and at least 3 days of record prior to the peak. Generate a plot of rainfall data for the same period of time. These plots can be generated online using the Water Monitoring Portal.
• From the plots, you will be able to identify the period of rainfall that was associated with the flood. Download hourly rainfalls for this period of time.
• Access the BOM IFD site and download the 2016 AR&R IFD data for the gauge location. It is appropriate to use this data as it represents the latest estimates of rainfall frequency.
• Estimate the time of concentration of the Back Creek catchment (refer to Section 5.3.2 of the Study book).
• Estimate the approximate AEP of the observed rainfall depth for the duration corresponding to the time of concentration (round off to the nearest hour). Estimate the corresponding AEP of the 2008 flood discharge (use the Annual Series plotting position estimate).
The probabilistic Rational Method assumes that a flood discharge of a certain frequency is caused by design rainfall of the same frequency (corresponding to the catchment time of concentration). The above analysis demonstrates how this may not be the case for ‘real’ floods.
2.6 Compile and select design discharge estimates
Compile the design discharge estimates for the Annual Series (both scenarios), the Partial Series, Palmen & Weeks method and RFFE analyses as a table. Plot the discharge estimates on the same graph against AEP. It is recommended that an undistorted linear scale (both horizontal and vertical) be used so that the differences in the design discharge estimates at moderate-to-large floods ( 10% AEP) can be clearly seen. Also plot on the graph the January 2008 peak discharge as a comparison.
Select design discharge estimates for each of the required AEP. It may not be appropriate to choose design discharges from the same method across the full range of AEPs. Provide statements that justify the choice of design discharge for each AEP.
2.7 Prepare assignment report
For reasons of consistency, a report template (ENV3105Report1Template2017.docx) must be downloaded from Study Desk and used to report your work. Complete each section of the report.
3. Submission
Your submission for Assignment 1 should include:
• The assignment report that documents the hydrological analyses that have completed (refer Section 2.7)
• An EXCEL spreadsheet containing your hydrological computations. Multiple spreadsheets will not be accepted – instead put your workings in separate sheets within the one EXCEL file. Include a list indicating the contents of each sheet to aid marking the above report.
A marking scheme is provided as Table 1. Use this marking scheme to check that you have addressed the full scope of the work.
If an element of the assignment has not been documented in the file report than no marks will be given for that element. Cut and paste relevant outputs from the EXCEL spreadsheet as required to provide the required documentation.
Part of the available marks has been allocated to reward reporting that is well set out and easy to follow. Submissions that are untidy and/or poorly structured and thus difficult to assess will attract less marks for this element.
Electronic submission of this assignment is required. One ZIP file will be accepted containing:
1. A single pdf document based on the template provided (rename the file based on the convention below)
2. A single EXCEL spreadsheet
The following filename convention shall be used: *, *Ass1.pdf and *Ass1.xlsx, where * is your full name.
4. Marking Scheme
The marking scheme proposed for Assignment 1 is presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Assignment 1 Marking Scheme
Assignment element Total
Annual Series FFA
Basic streamgauge data and rating curve 25
Missing data (timeseries plot and % missing) 10
Annual Series data 20
Annual Series statistics 10
Annual Series FFA charts and design discharge estimates 20
Partial Series FFA
K and threshold discharge 5
Partial Series discharge table 10
Regression plot, fitted equation 10
Partial Series FFA chart and design discharge estimates 20
Palmen & Weeks and RFFE FFA
Catchment plan showing boundary and centroid 20
Key inputs 5
Design discharge estimates 20
Assessment of January 2008 flood rainfalls
Flood hydrograph and rainfall plots 10
IFD table 10
Table of January 2011 storm details 10
Selection of design discharge estimates
Table of discharge estimates 5
AEP-discharge plot 10
Selection of design discharges with justification 10
Assignment report 10
Assignment EXCEL spreadsheet 10
5. References
Palmen, L.B., and Weeks, W.D., 2011. Regional flood frequency for Queensland using the quantile regression technique. Australian Journal of Water Resources, 15 (1), 47-57.
Rahman, A. K. Haddad, G. Kuczera and E. Weinmann. 2015 ARR - A Guide to flood estimation.
Chapter 3 Regional Flood Methods. Available to download