Heat as a tracer workshop - the heat is on!

Posted 10 December 2012

Post Doc Hamid Roshan (CWI/UNSW) explains a new method to estimate unsaturated zone soil moisture based on temperature measurement.

CWI and NCGRT organised a well-attended and successful workshop at the Water Research Laboratory, Sydney on 26 November 2012.

The workshop focused on theoretical and technical issues around the use of heat as a tracer of water flow in groundwater and at interfaces between groundwater and surface water bodies.

In total the meeting had 34 attendees with 12 presentations from researchers from UNSW, Flinders University, CSIRO (WA), University of Birmingham (UK) and University of Copenhagen (Denmark). NCGRT Industry partners were represented by NOW, CSIRO and ANSTO and industry by project engineers from WRL.

The breadth and depth of presentations illustrated that there has been considerable recent advances in both fundamental understanding and range of methods utilising heat as a tracer.

The main conclusions of the workshop was that heat as tracer is a underutilised method with great potential, but that it should be used in conjunction with other methods such as pressure gradients and solute tracers to compensate for situations and conditions where heat tracing is limited and to optimise the interpretation.

It was also raised that the method capabilities and limitations needs to be communicated better to the industry to facilitate more routinely use of the method for monitoring of subsurface water flows. Remaining fundamental questions as well as method limitations were discussed, such as up-scaling of results from point measurements to river reach scales which are more useful from a water management perspective.

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