UofA researchers first Australians to receive international hydrological award

University of Adelaide water researchers David McInerney, Mark Thyer and Dmitri Kavetski have achieved international recognition of their outstanding research by being awarded the STAHY Best Paper Award for 2021 by the International Commission on Statistical Hydrology (ICSH).

Elena Volpi, the President of ICSH says:

“This is the first time Australian researchers have won the award. It was chosen from the top 20 most highly cited papers because of its outstanding contribution in the field of statistical hydrology. Thanks to the methodological rigour combined with the physical interpretations of empirical results, this paper yielded a clear contribution to both theoretical and practical objectives for streamflow prediction that match societal and environmental needs.” 

Rocky River Pools, Kangaroo Island

Rocky River on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, one of the ephemeral catchments used in the award-winning study of McInerney et al (2017).
Photo: Walking SA

Dr David McInerney, the lead author of the study (McInerney et al., (2017)) which was published in the top international journal Water Resources Research, was excited by the announcement, saying, “The research provides a major advance in the field of catchment scale hydrological modelling by identifying the best performing statistical methods that provide the most reliable, precise and unbiased predictions of catchment streamflow.”

“Predicting streamflow and water availability is a major scientific and engineering challenge, with global socio-economic significance” says co-author Associate Professor Mark Thyer, “The findings of this study provide hydrologists, water resources engineers and environmental managers with robust modelling tools for quantifying predictive uncertainty in streamflow predictions – a key input for risk-based design and management of water and environmental systems.”

Professor Dmitri Kavetski, who also co-authored the study, stated:

“This research has already made a strong practical impact – it is used by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to achieve major improvements in Australia-wide operational seasonal streamflow forecasts (see Woldemeskel et al., (2018)). The research also laid the foundation for practical advances in the area of subseasonal (0-30 day) streamflow forecasting (McInerney et al., 2020), and improving streamflow predictions in ephemeral catchments (McInerney et al., 2019). As such the work contributes strongly to Australian and international community efforts on effective and sustainable environmental management.”

The international award further cements the academic reputation of the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering at the University of Adelaide, which was ranked in the Top 40 in the world for both Water Resources and Civil Engineering, by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The researchers will receive the award and give an invited "virtual" lecture at the upcoming STAHY 2021 workshop in Valencia, Spain. 

About the researchers

McInerney Thyer Kavetski at the University of Adelaide

Dr David McInerney is a Senior Research Associate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Adelaide. He has a background in mathematics and over 15 years of research experience in the USA and Australia using mathematical and statistical models to improve the understanding and management of physical systems. His current research focuses on the quantification of uncertainty in hydrological predictions and improving the quality of streamflow forecasts.

Researcher profile

Dr Mark Thyer is an Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Adelaide. He has over 17 years research experience in developing physical-statistical models to enhance predictions for hydrological, environmental and water resource models. His research interests include flood/drought risk assessment; long-term climate variability, quantifying predictive uncertainty in hydrological models and behavourial water use modelling for integrated urban water management. He is an internationally recognised expert on use approaches to quantify of uncertainty in hydrological predictions. He has published numerous journal papers in top international water resources which are highly cited and is co-investigator on research grants worth over $5 million.

Researcher profile

Professor Dmitri Kavetski is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Adelaide. His research work focuses on hydrological modelling, where he has contributed a range of new techniques for model development, calibration and prediction. A particular emphasis has been on understanding, quantifying, and where possible reducing, the sources of uncertainty in streamflow predictions at the catchment scale. Dmitri's broader research interests include probabilistic methods, numerical modelling and optimization. Dmitri also delivers regular short courses and workshops on hydrological modelling to Australian and international audiences.

Researcher profile

Tagged in Latest News and Achievements, Civil Environmental and Mining Engineering, High impact research