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Developments in storm tide modelling and risk assessment in the Australian region

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An overview is provided of some of the significant storm tide modelling and risk assessment studies undertaken over the past few years within Australia and the nearby oceanic regions for government and industry. Emphasis is placed on the need for integrated planning and forecasting approaches for storm tide risk assessment. The importance of the meteorological forcing and the appropriate modelling of each of the storm tide components, namely, astronomical tide, storm surge, breaking wave setup and coastal inundation is discussed. The critical role of tropical cyclone “best track” datasets for risk assessment studies and the potential impacts on design criteria and risk assessment studies is highlighted, together with the challenge of developing credible enhanced-greenhouse climate change scenarios. It is concluded that storm tide modelling needs to be undertaken in a holistic framework that considers the relative uncertainties in each of the various elements—atmospheric, hydrodynamic and data, as well as addressing operational forecasting, design and planning needs.

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  1. All Queensland Climate Change study reports are available from the following URL as at January 2009: with access to the principal study results also available via

  2. The Marine Modelling Unit now operates within the Australian Maritime College in Launceston, Tasmania.

  3. The tidal range along the Queensland coast varies between 2 m (south), 8 m (central) and 4 m (north).

  4. Note that in this case the highest ARI may not necessarily show the greatest difference because of regional sensitivities.

  5. All surge modelling was done at nominal current climate MSL; all wave modelling at MHWS.


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Correspondence to Bruce Harper.

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Harper, B., Hardy, T., Mason, L. et al. Developments in storm tide modelling and risk assessment in the Australian region. Nat Hazards 51, 225–238 (2009).

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