News and Media

Heat as a tracer workshop – the heat is on!


On November 26, the Connected Waters Institute at UNSW and the NCGRT organised a well-attended and successful workshop at the Water Research Laboratory, Sydney. 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), the University of Birmingham (UK) and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark).  NCGRT industry partners were represented by the NSW Office of Water, CSIRO and ANSTO and industry by project engineers from the Water Research Laboratory. 

The breadth and depth of presentations illustrated that there have been considerable recent advances in both fundamental understanding and range of methods utilising heat as a tracer. The main conclusions of the workshop were that heat as tracer is a under-utilised 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  industry to facilitate more routine 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.