Researchers from the Geospatial Analysis for Environmental Change Lab at the University of New South Wales have previously used satellite image time series data and NCI's supercomputer to calculate 26 years of water availability across the Murray-Darling Basin (published here by Tulbure, Broich et al. (2016) in Remote Sensing of Environment). Now, they have worked to understand how vegetation in the Basin responds to rain and flooding across a quarter century of drought and deluge (read the paper by Broich, Tulbure et al. 2018 here.)

Maintaining the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) is an important project for all of Australia, as it contains more than 30,000 valuable wetlands, supports vital flora and fauna, and provides water to irrigate well over half of our food-growing regions. Making decisions about the environmental flows within the MDB is only possible with accurate knowledge of how the zone around the rivers and streams responds to rain and flooding events.

The Murray-Darling Basin Floodplain during a flooding event, taken by a Landsat satellite in December 2016.

Lead researcher Dr Mark Broich says about the research: "A stronger understanding of vegetation response to water availability was necessary, and our study fills a major knowledge gap in this area by quantifying the dependence of vegetation on flood dynamics across the MDB."

The research required Dr Broich and his colleagues to access more than 25,000 images from US Landsat satellites stored at NCI, and harness the power and speed of the NCI supercomputer, to get a rigorous understanding of the vegetation–water relationships in this complex system. Notably, NCI's combination of computing power, data storage, software optimisation expertise, user support and data management systems all played a part in enabling this research.