Assoc. Professor Bill Peirson
- Director -
Bill is the Director of the Water Research Laboratory and an international expert in civil and environmental engineering fluid mechanics. He undertakes specialist research and provides professional engineering advice in the fields of coastal engineering, air-sea interaction, fluvial hydraulics, estuarine processes and the hydraulics and mechanical behaviour of turbomachines.
Prior to being appointed to an academic position, he practiced as a specialist water engineering consultant for 17 years, including being the past Manager of WRL from 1998 to 2001. He has led major multidisciplinary coastal and estuarine engineering investigations in Australia and internationally, and teaches across the entire discipline of water engineering to undergraduate engineering students and postgraduate professional engineers.
Bill continues to provide specialist, strategic engineering advice to government and industry on a broad range of water engineering issues, and has prepared over 100 professional engineering technical reports. Full details of his publications can be supplied on request.
In addition to familiarity and application of conventional water engineering design approaches, his practical and research experience includes: computational fluid dynamics modelling (including the application of higher order turbulence closure); the development of wave, hydraulic and water quality shallow-water equation models; turbulence and constituent flux measurements; and, the development of automated measurement and control systems.
Bill pioneered the application of particle image velocimetry (PIV, 1997) and laser induced fluorescence (LIF, with James Walker, 2007) to obtain non-intrusive, reliable measurements of water velocities, vorticities and tracer concentrations within 0.05mm of moving air-water interfaces covered with 20mm waves. The PIV developments enabled: resolution of a 20 year, controversy regarding wind-induced drag as well as categorisation of key surface convergence processes at the air-sea interface (with Prof. Michael Banner, 1998 and 2003). More recently, the LIF technique has enabled the first quantifiable hierarchy of tracer exchange processes in air-sea interaction at moderate wind speeds.
Bill contributed to the development and verification of a new theory for the initiation of and energy fluxes from 2D wave breaking within deep water wave groups (with Michael Banner, 2007). From this work, he identified a key contribution of shoaling wave groups to the size of coastal design waves (with Tom Shand, 2007).
There had been a 35 year old disparity between British, American and German design approaches to the design of rock scour protection for large flows down steep slopes. Bill reconciled the design approaches, yielding a scatter in the available data of less than ±30% (with former undergraduate student Shara Cameron (née Fleming), 2006). He has recently extended this study by undertaking new large-scale measurements to develop the key hydraulic relationships and a basis for cost-optimal design (with Jens Figlus, Steven Pells and Ron Cox, 2008).
Recently, he has resolved a 50 year old question at the heart of air-sea interaction: why are the measured growth rates of wind wave approximately twice that of theoretical estimates? His recent experiments with Andrew Garcia (U.S Army Corps of Engineers) have shown that the breaking of short wind waves can significantly contribute to the growth of underlying lower frequency waves as proposed by Michael Longuet-Higgins in 1969.
- Download Bill Peirson’s CV
- Download Bill’s latest publication in air-sea interaction
- Download Bill’s latest publication in rain-water surface interaction
Areas of Expertise