AURIN-Australian Stocks and Flows (ASFF) Data Integration

AURIN-Australian Stocks and Flows (ASFF) Data Integration

This project will establish two-way data exchange between AURIN and the Australian Stocks and Flows Framework (ASFF), a tool for comprehensive and detailed sustainability analysis. Current ASFF datasets will be integrated into AURIN. The project will also increase ASFF longevity by automating some of the calibration work required to incorporate new datasets. Data currently in the AURIN Portal will provide a valuable input to the framework, introducing new data and increased detail to the model.

Project overview

Schematic of the ASFF

Schematic of the ASFF

The Australian Stocks and Flows Framework (ASFF) is a simulation tool and scenario modelling platform for integrated analysis of the physical economy of Australia. It was developed to assess the biophysical sustainability of the Australian economy, with coverage of the whole physical economy based on bottom-up process-based detail. It can be used to explore issues that are long-term (over many decades), economy- and nation-wide, but with considerable sectoral and spatial detail.

ASFF acts as a calculator for the physical processes that underlie economic activity – like an accounting system that keeps track of land, water, energy, employment and materials required for economic activity to actually occur. For each simulation, the model is first run over a historical period from 1946 – 2006, after which future scenarios are then calculated to 2100. To provide an accurate ‘launch pad’ for the scenarios, the historical period is calibrated to ensure that the model outputs are entirely consistent with observed data.

Calibration involves assembly and formatting of all relevant datasets, estimation of missing data, correction of erroneous data, and estimation of parameters and variables that do not have any observed data (see e.g., Baynes et al., 2011). The estimation of values for some variables may be comparatively free or in other cases completely constrained depending on the relationships described in the model and the observed data that is available. Either way, the result is a complete and consistent ‘input’ database in the sense that all variables have data over all their dimensions, and the observed data can be reproduced when the model is run over the historical period.

The data from ASFF available through AURIN includes relevant datasets from the historical calibration database. The ASFF datasets are from a wide variety of thematic areas, geographic coverage and spatial resolution. Spatial resolution of the ASFF data varies from national level down to Statistical Local Areas. Outputs of the ASFF cover all sectors of the economy and environmental compartments in physical terms.

User Case Study: suitability of buildings for rooftop gardens


In contemporary urban design, urban food production, reducing the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect and the greening of cities for increased liveability are all topical issues. A common measure proposed to address some or all of these issues is that of rooftop gardens. Housing water-logged soil and plants on the top of buildings, however, is not possible unless the building has sufficient structural strength. Due to advances in efficiency of construction, current building designs usually are not able to support gardens. Older buildings, however, were generally over-designed to the extent that they could potentially support them.

Due to the historical calibration, a key aspect of many datasets from ASFF is their ‘vintage’ characteristic or age-profile, including data on the age-profile of buildings in cities. Along with other background research, it is possible that ASFF data could be used to estimate the proportion of buildings in an urban area that were of sufficient age to support a rooftop garden. This could be calculated for both the present and future contexts, since the rate at which they are being demolished and replaced with newer buildings is also calculated in ASFF. This could inform both prospects for rooftop garden establishment and future planning policy with respect to the demolition, or not, of suitable buildings.


Project Outputs

  • Extract current data from ASFF and port to AURIN
    • Data variables will be identified from the comprehensive historical calibration of ASFF;
    • Scripts will be developed to extract the data of the identified variables;
    • Implement AURIN integration processes for the extracted data;
  • Identify relevant AURIN data for ASFF calibration; extract and format
    • Review AURIN datasets for socio-economic indicators likely to be linked to biophysical aspects in ASFF;
    • Develop scripts or processes for accessing the AURIN data;
  • Integrate data into ASFF
    • Use the ASFF whatIf software platform capabilities to integrate AURIN data into the calibration model of ASFF;
  • Re-structure and code for reproducible ASFF calibration
    • Identify key public data sets that are likely to be available at regular intervals, such as census data;
    • Automate the ASFF calibration with existing data i.e., for the 1946–2006 historical timeframe;
    • Update the calibration to a revised historical timeframe, in this instance likely to be to 2011;
  • Revise data extraction from ASFF to AURIN
    • Use the scripts and processes already developed to update datasets based on the revised ASFF calibration.

Project Team Overview

The Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI), hosted by the Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning, at the University of Melbourne, aims to facilitate and enable research linkages, projects and conversations leading to increased understanding of sustainability and resilience trends, challenges and solutions. The MSSI approach includes a particular emphasis on the contribution of the social sciences and humanities to understanding and addressing sustainability and resilience challenges. The MSSI has three high-level focus areas: future cities/urban future; climate transformations; and sustainability in the anthropocene.

whatIf Technologies provide software technology and consulting services for systems models and simulation. Their models are used for strategic planning and scenario analysis, as well as risk analysis, policy analysis and education. The three areas of business are: technology (offering a complete, integrated software environment – the whatIf? Modelling Platform – for the development and use of simulation models); custom modelling (working with clients to design and implement models using the whatIf? Modelling Platform); and application products (providing rapidly assembled models from pre-built model components).

Dr Graham Turner is a Principal Research Fellow with MSSI and his work involves whole-of-system analysis on the long-term physical sustainability of the environment and economy. With a background in applied physics, Graham develops and applies the Australian Stocks and Flows Framework to create ‘what if’ scenarios that quantify sustainability challenges and explore potential solutions. Past topics have included Australian agriculture, fisheries, transport, climate change impacts, water–energy systems, water accounting, distributed energy, food security and green economy employment.

Dr Seona Candy is a research fellow on an ARC funded project using scenario modelling to link land and resource use with the availability of a nutritionally adequate diet and identify priority policy interventions to protect Australia’s future food security in the face of environmental sustainability challenges. The research project is being undertaken in collaboration with Deakin University and Australian National University, and uses the Australian Stocks and Flows Framework (ASFF), a model of the physical economy of Australia originally developed by the CSIRO.

Dr Graham Turner
Project Leader (Main Contact)
0488 370 033
Dr Seona Candy
Research Fellow
03 9035 4499

Project Partners


Further Reading

  • Turner, GM, Hoffman, R, McInnis, BC, Poldy, F, & Foran, B 2011, ‘A tool for strategic biophysical assessment of a national economy – The Australian Stocks and Flows Framework’, Environmental Modelling & Software vol. 26, no. 9, pp. 1134–1149.
  • Kenway, S, Turner, GM, Cook, S, & Baynes, TM 2014, ‘Water and Energy Futures for Melbourne: implications of land use, water use, and water supply strategy’, Journal of Water and Climate Change, vol. 5, no 2, pp. 163-175.
  • Turner, GM, Elliston, B, & Diesendorf, M 2012, ‘Impacts on the Biophysical Economy and Environment of a Transition to 100% Renewable Electricity in Australia’, Energy Policy, vol. 54, pp. 288-299.
  • Turner GM, West, J 2011, ‘Modelling the electricity generation system and environmental implications in an integrated long-term planning framework’, Energy Policy, doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2011.10.053.
  • Turner, GM 2011, ‘Energy Shocks and Emerging Alternative Technologies’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, DOI:10.1080/10357718.2011.570248
  • Turner, GM & Baynes, TM 2010, ‘Soft-coupling of national biophysical and economic models for improved understanding of feedbacks’, Environmental Policy and Governance; vol. 20, pp. 270–282.
  • Turner, GM, Baynes TM & McInnis, BC 2010, ‘A Water Accounting System for Strategic Water Management’, Water Resources Management vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 513-543
  • Schandl, H & Turner, GM 2009, ‘The Dematerialization Potential of the Australian Economy’, Journal of Industrial Ecology vol. 13, no. 6, pp. 863-880.
  • Schandl, H, Poldy, F, Turner, GM, Measham, TG, Walker, D & Eisenmenger, N 2008, ‘Australia’s Resource Use Trajectories Journal of Industrial Ecology vol. 12, no. 5 (Special Issue on Material Use Across World Regions: Inevitable Pasts and Possible Futures), pp. 669-685.
  • Lennox, JA, Turner, G, Hoffman, RB & McInnis, BC 2005 ‘Modelling Australian basic industries in the Australian Stocks and Flows Framework‘, Journal of Industrial Ecology vol. 8, pp.101-120.



Download the FACT SHEET: Australian Stocks & Flows Framework Data Integration