FEIT Research Project Database

Incorporating climate change projections in Australia’s flood guidance

Project Leader: Conrad Wasko
Collaborators: Rory Nathan
Sponsors: ARC DECRA
Primary Contact: Conrad Wasko (conrad.wasko@unimelb.edu.au)
Keywords: hydrology; water resources
Disciplines: Infrastructure Engineering

Australia’s climate is changing and there is a need for flood guidelines to be continually updated to match the latest scientific research. In particular, extreme rainfalls are intensifying, consequently changing the intensity frequency duration (IFD) relationships used in engineering design. Short duration rainfall are increasing more than long duration rainfalls, and the rarer the event, the greater the increase. But there is also a considerable uncertainty surrounding the estimates of these changes, where existing research has tended to focus on events of a magnitude that are more common than those usually used in infrastructure design.

This project aims to synthesis data from three main avenues of evidence into changes in extreme rainfall: historical relationships, precipitation–temperature sensitivities, and climate model projections, to understand exactly how extreme rainfalls from a design perspective are likely to be changing due to human influence. This project aims to fill the current knowledge of gap of how rainfalls, across a range of durations and exceedances, will differ in a future warmer climate.


Students are expected to have a background in hydrology and ideally a background in statistical analysis. Students will be expected to perform significant computer programming tasks and analysis with large data sets using Python, R, Matlab or similar.

Successful applicants will be awarded a tax-free stipend ($31,200) and fee offset scholarship. Applications should familiarise themselves with the entry requirements to the PhD program at the University of Melbourne.

Expressions of interest

Interested applicants should email Dr Conrad Wasko, conrad.wasko@unimelb.edu.au, with a statement on their motivation to undertake a PhD in this topic along with a CV and transcripts of previous degrees. This is necessary to understand whether you will be competitive for a scholarship and admission into the PhD program. This position will remain vacant until a suitable candidate is found.

This project is funded by the ARC DECRA scheme to investigate how climate change will influence flood behaviour with the ultimate objective of determining how best to incorporate the projected changes into Australia’s flood guidance.