G.N. Alexander Medal

Award Citation

For the first time the judges were unable to separate the two highest ranked papers and accordingly the GN Alexander Medal was jointly awarded to the authors of the papers titled:

"Stratification of regionalisation results for a large dataset of unregulated Australian catchments"
Dr Yongqiang Zhang from CSIRO Land and Water, and
Dr Neil Viney from CSIRO Land and Water
Published in the Proceedings, 34th IAHR Congress, 33rd HWRS, 10th HWE, 26 June - 1 July 2011, Brisbane


"The risk typology of sea level rise: understanding the problem of houses falling into the sea",
Mark Gibbs from AECOM Brisbane
Olivier Thebaud from CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, and
Donna Lorenz from AECOM in Sydney
Published in the Proceedings, Practical Responses to Climate Change Conference, 1-3 May, Canberra

It is the view of the NCWE that the first winning paper comprehensively evaluates runoff prediction results in ungauged catchments by using rainfall-runoff modelling and regionalisation in 685 unregulated catchments widely distributed across Australia. The results show that using multiple donor catchments can improve runoff predictions, compared to the single donor catchment. Comprehensive evaluation of the regionalization is carried out by stratification of the 685 catchments into different categories using catchment attributes, such as catchment area, precipitation and aridity index. The stratification results suggest that the model performs worse in dry and large catchments than in wet and small catchments and this research will inform further research to improve runoff predictions in dry and large catchments.

It is the view of the NCWE that the second winning paper contends that the lack of demonstrable progress in adapting to sea level rise is at least partly a result of the lack of due consideration of the established private property rights and is confounded by the core issue of who pays for adaption. The authors argue that the issue needs to be recast from a physical sciences problem to a social and economic problem that is informed by scientific and engineering information. In particular the distribution and transfer of risk within and between the key actors is a key consideration. This paper reveals a number of ways that the risk could be allocated to the major actors. However, the it does not reveal an option whereby the risk could be relatively easily distributed and this explains why this issue has proved to be problematic. It is also suggests that more progress might be made if the problem is cast in terms of risk allocation and distribution rather than simplistic options of retreat or defence.


After a review of more than 400 eligible papers, eight papers (8) were short listed by members of the NCWE for final consideration for the awarding of the Medal. These eight papers were (in alphabetical order of lead author):


Engineers Australia awards the GN Alexander Medal for Hydrology and Water Resources to the author(s) of the best paper in hydrology and/or water resources in an Australian publication over the period from and including the previous Hydrology & Water Resources Symposium.

GN Alexander was one of the greats in the early years of Australian hydrology. He was a member of the working committee which produced the first Australian Rainfall and Runoff and a regular contributor at Hydrology Symposia.

The award is judged by a panel appointed by the National Committee on Water Engineering. The recipient must be a member of Engineers Australia.