Australian Rainfall and Runoff

A Guide to Flood Estimation

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The Australian Rainfall and Runoff: A guide to flood estimation (ARR) is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence, unless otherwise indicated or marked.

Please give attribution to: © Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2016.

Third-Party Material

The Commonwealth of Australia and the ARR's contributing authors (through Engineers Australia) have taken steps to both identify third-party material and secure permission for its reproduction and reuse. However, please note that where these materials are not licensed under a Creative Commons licence or similar terms of use, you should obtain permission from the relevant third-party to reuse their material beyond the ways you are legally permitted to use them under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act 1968.

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Intellectual Property and Copyright Manager
Corporate Branch
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GPO Box 378
Phone: +61 2 6249 9367 or email:

ISBN 978-1-925297-07-2

How to reference this book:
Ball J, Babister M, Nathan R, Weeks W, Weinmann E, Retallick M, Testoni I, (Editors) Australian Rainfall and Runoff: A Guide to Flood Estimation, © Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia), 2016.

ARR 2016 Ministerial Foreword

In late 2010 and early 2011 Queensland and Victoria were devastated by a series of storms, floods and cyclones that resulted in loss of life, significant property damage and financial loss for many communities. Events such as these highlight the challenges in predicting these extreme events as well as managing their impacts.

The Australian Government recognised this challenge and committed to the comprehensive revision of the Australia Rainfall and Runoff (ARR) guidelines.

ARR 2016 will have national application and will be essential for policy decisions and projects in areas as diverse as:

The ARR was last updated in 1997. Since then, our understanding of the complexity of the Australian landscape has grown. This understanding has been gained through the collection and analysis of new data, reflective of Australia's variable landscape. In previous versions of the ARR, only limited Australian data was available so overseas models were applied in many cases. The 2016 revision includes all Australian data, including a national database of extreme flood hazards and 30 years of over 8000 rainfall gauges across the Nation. Not only does the ARR 2016 make use of rich historical data but its dynamic development will allow new data and information to be used as it becomes available.

The revision of the ARR would not have been possible without the support and funding from the Australian Government as well as the significant contributions from Engineers Australia members, flood practitioners and academia. This collaborative effort is a testament of the community, industry, academia and government to improve our understanding the nature of flooding to reduce the social and economic impacts will contribute to building resilient communities.

Ministers Signature
The Hon Karen Andrews MP
Assistant Minister for Science


Since its first publication in 1958, Australian Rainfall and Runoff (ARR) has remained one of the most influential and widely used guidelines published by Engineers Australia (EA). The 3rd edition, published in 1987, retained the same level of national and international acclaim as its predecessors.

With nationwide applicability, balancing the varied climates of Australia, the information and the approaches presented in Australian Rainfall and Runoff are essential for policy decisions and projects involving:

However, many of the practices recommended in the 1987 edition of ARR have become outdated, and no longer represent the accepted views of professionals, both in terms of technique and approach to water management. This fact, coupled with greater understanding of climate and climatic influences makes the securing of current and complete rainfall and streamflow data and expansion of focus from flood events to the full spectrum of flows and rainfall events, crucial to maintaining an adequate knowledge of the processes that govern Australian rainfall and streamflow in the broadest sense, allowing better management, policy and planning decisions to be made.

One of the major responsibilities of the National Committee on Water Engineering of Engineers Australia is the periodic revision of ARR. While the NCWE had long identified the need to update ARR it had become apparent by 2002 that even with a piecemeal approach the task could not be carried out without significant financial support. In 2008 the revision of ARR was identified as a priority in the Council of Australian Governments endorsed National Adaptation Framework for Climate Change.

In addition to the update 21 projects were identified with the aim of filling knowledge gaps. Funding for Stages 1 and 2 of the ARR revision projects were provided by the now Department of the Environment. Stage 3 was funded by Geoscience Australia. Funding for Stages 2 and 3 of Project 1 (Development of Intensity-Frequency-Duration information across Australia) has been provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. The outcomes of the projects assisted the ARR Editorial Team with the compiling and writing of chapters in the revised ARR. Steering and Technical Committees were established to assist the ARR Editorial Team in guiding the projects to achieve desired outcomes.

Assoc Prof James Ball
ARR Editor
Ball Signature

Mark Babister
Chair Technical Committee for ARR Revision Projects
Babister Signature

ARR Technical Committee

Chair: Mark Babister


Related Appointments:

ARR Project Engineer: Monique Retallick
ARR Admin Support: Isabelle Testoni
Assisting TC on Technical Matters: Erwin Weinmann, Dr Michael Leonard

ARR Editorial Team


Associate Editors for Book 9 - Runoff in Urban Areas

Status of this document

This document forms part of an industry consultation release of Australian Rainfall and Runoff. Industry comment will be reviewed by the Editorial team in October 2016, with the next publish date to then be decided. This document is a living document and will be regularly updated in the future.

In development of this guidance, also discussed in Book 1 of ARR 1987, it was recognised that knowledge and information availability is not fixed and that future research and applications will develop new techniques and information. This is particularly relevant in applications where techniques have been extrapolated from the region of their development to other regions and where efforts should be made to reduce large uncertainties in current estimates of design flood characteristics.

Therefore, where circumstances warrant, designers have a duty to use other procedures and design information more appropriate for their design flood problem. The authorship team of this edition of Australian Rainfall and Runoff believe that the use of new or improved procedures should be encouraged, especially where these are more appropriate than the methods described in this publication.

Therefore where relevant this draft of ARR can be used in practice prior to finalisation.

Care should be taken when combining inputs derived using ARR 1987 and methods described in this document.

A summary of the status:



Book 1

Advanced Draft

Book 2

Advanced Draft

Book 3

Advanced Draft

Book 4

Advanced Draft

Book 5

Advanced Draft

Book 6

Advanced Draft

Book 7

Working Draft

Book 8

Advanced Draft

Book 9

Working Draft