Oddbjørn Bruland, project leader for WoWW, has published a new article in the divulgation magazine Komunalteknikk (nr. 2-20, front cover and pages 36-39, in Norwegian). The article emphasizes the potential of serious games not only as communication and teaching tools, but also as an important mean to improve flood awareness and management.
After the flood affecting his hometown, Utvik, in 2017 (study case published recently in the journal Hydrology Research and available here), Oddbjørn was witness of the material and structural damage that flash floods can cause if we are not ready to protect our rivers. Bearing this in mind, the initiative for a new project that would provide a better insight into how to identify critical locations in rivers, SAFE RIVERS, was soon set into action.
SAFE RIVERS intends to provide a deeper insight into where floods could start and where we should focus our efforts when protecting the communities in case a flood event would happen. This is information is key to WoWW and also to partners of the project, such as the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) and Telenor (communication company). Several municipalities are involved in the project and will be used as test cases for SAFE RIVERS and, most likely, also for WoWW.
Researchers from water-related disciplines like Hydraulics, Morphodynamics, Ecology and Integral approaches presented their work digitally, and the contents were exceptionally available for the attendees to discuss upon until the 17th of July due to the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. Among the varied topics in fluid mechanics, river monitoring, extreme events and rivers under pressure, few studies focused on optimized numerical modelling techniques, as well as visualization and flood risk communication.
Alongside with the different thematic sessions arranged, young researchers were given the opportunity to present and discuss varied topics in masterclasses arranged by experienced researchers. For instance, Adina participated on the 6th of July in the masterclass “The Digital River”, organized by Enrica Viparelli (University of South Carolina) and Ioana Popescu (IHE Delft).
The conference program had other highlights, such as an e-social gathering and keynote lectures in “Future generations fighting climate change” (Gabriela Eslava Bejarano, Columbia University, USA), “Rivers Dynamics in Regions of Rapid Climate Change” (Irina Overeem, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA) and “When a tree falls in a river… a cascade process begins” (Virginia Ruiz-Villanueva, University of Lausanne, Switzerland).
The department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Institutt for Bygg- og Miljøteknikk) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) held its end-of-the-year seminar at Scandic Hotel (Trondheim) today. World of Wild Waters was presented, among other projects held within the different research groups in this department, this time by the IBM’s PhD candidates within WoWW.
After the session where the main research groups (Building and Construction, Geotechnical Engineering, Hydraulics Engineering, Marine Civil Engineering, Road-Transport-and-Geomatics, Water and Waste Water Engineering, etc.) presented their progress and near-future goals, the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) group briefed us on the importance of a balanced psychosocial work environment and mental health.
The WoWW project’s presentation was held within the third session of the day: the Excellence in Action! session. The presentation slideshow is available here.
Although the project started about a year ago, our last PhD candidate (Silius Mortensønn Vandeskog, Dept. of Mathematics) joined us officially this Autumn. This presentation is, therefore, one of the first public presentations since the WoWW team is complete.
The Norwegian scientific magazine covers news on technology, environment, natural sciences, innovation, and society among other topics. This week they released a news article on World of Wild Waters and our focus on the use of serious gaming for a successful dissemination of flood risk.
i) the flood event in Utvik (2017) was the starting point and where the World of Wild Waters started. Our project leader, a hydrologist that noticed a potential risk in his hometown, warned the local authorities with no response in return.
ii) the need of effective (in a precise yet understandable manner to non-experts) flood risk communication was identified.
iii) advanced hydrologic and hydraulic knowledge needed to be gathered and embedded into a serious gaming platform. Seven PhD candidates started their journey to make this possible. However, the final product will be incomplete without the collaboration of external partners from the gaming industry. The sooner these partners step in, the sooner the municipalities and decision-makers will benefit from this user-friendly flood risk assessment and communication tool.
Oddbjørn Bruland was recently hosted on Lørn Tech, a podcast covering top technology topics in Norway, such as Gaming, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Block Chain, Big Data or Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), among many others. Sunniva Rose, a well known nuclear physicist in Norway, conducted the interview on the topic VR.AR, very relevant to our project.
In the podcast (translated to “Wet, Wild and Virtual“, which are World of Wild Waters’ keywords par excellence), Oddbjørn talks about the concept of Serious Gaming and introduces our project’s goals and how uniquely multidisciplinary our team is.
The scientific community is already very familiar with advanced hydraulic simulations and writing long and dull reports presenting the simulated results. However, such reports might not have the desired impact when presented to decision-makers and stakeholders that oftentimes do not have such hydraulic engineering background. As highlighted during the interview, World of Wild Waters attempts to bridge this communication gap. Our goal is, primarily, to facilitate scientific dissemination of natural hazards by presenting the flood and landslide scenarios through exciting and realistic simulations within the framework of a virtual environment. This is expected to improve sound decision-making and save lives and cost.
We are always happy to talk in further detail about what we do in WoWW, and we appreciate Lørn.Tech’s invitation to their podcast.
The 22nd Northern Research Basins Symposium/Workshop was held in Yellowknife, Canada (by the Great Slave lake, one of the 10 largest fresh water lakes on the planet), from August 18th to August 24th 2019. There, Oddbjørn (project leader) and Adina (work package 2) presented their research regarding hydrology and hydraulics of flash floods in steep rivers.
A pannel of discussion was organized on the last two days, which led to very enriching and insightful discussion regarding how to better collaborate and achieve synergies among local field knowledge and the scientific community. Attendees were indigenous experts, the scientists presenting during the conference and the local pannelists invited.
The conference agenda included social activities, such as a boat trip to visit the indigenous Dene community nearby, learn about their traditions and how to use natural and forest resources and appreciate what nature has to offer. We got the chance to go on a guided tour around artsy Yellowknife, always accompanied by live fiddle music. Lastly, a banquet was held and a visit to Scotty creek closed the conference on Saturday.
Oddbjørn’s presentation is titled “How extreme can specific runoff become in steep Norwegian catchments?” and covers the complex hydrology around the flood event that affected his hometown, Utvik, exactly two years ago, in July 2017. This data has been used to simulate the hydraulics and morphodynamics of the affected rivers both in Utvik and the neighbour village, Innvik, in the poster Michal and Oddbjørn presented at EGU in April this year.
Adina’s presentation is titled “River idealization for identification of critical locations in steep rivers using 2D hydrodynamic modelling and GIS” and tackles the characterization of any named steep river’s susceptibility to changing conditions, such as extreme rainfalls. The preliminary idealization of scenarios allows to detect parameters and sensitive areas worth focusing on during more detailed studies (such as channel bends) without the interference of case-specific hydrologic and topographic conditions. The study is time and cost-saving oriented, aiming at optimizing flood risk analysis.
Both presentations will take place on the first day of the conference, Monday 18th of August. We will update with anecdotes on this event; stay tuned!