The International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR) has hosted their first Young Professionals congress this week. The congress aims to encourage networking and mentorship for young researchers in fields such as Fluvial Hydraulics, Hydroinformatics, Flood Risk Management or Sediment Transport, Experimental Methods and Instrumentations, among others. The event was held virtually (streamed live in YouTube) and gathered nearly 1,000 attendees.
Michal, Nitesh and Adina took part in the congress and the latter two presented their most recent findings in form of extended abstracts and posters in the Flood Risk Management session, chaired by Stefan Haun (Stuttgart University in Germany) and Benjamin Dewals (University of Liège in Belgium), and moderated by José M. Carrillo (Technical University of Cartagena in Spain). Both presentations were recorded by the congress organizing committee and are available down below.
Michal and Nitesh presented “Coupled hydrodynamic and hydrologic modelling using Telemac-2D” in a different study case in Western Norway. The focus was on testing the effect of modelling short and long term Antecedent Moisture Conditions, mesh size and steep slope correction. The congress proceedings will be available in the e-Library of IAHR.
After a considerable long period without fieldtrips due to the SARS-CoV-2, and just before a new wave hit us all, WoWW sought for calibration and validation data for its hydraulic numerical models. Although the likelihood of flooding decreases considerably during the cold Norwegian Autumn, Oddbjørn, Michal and Adina visited two mountainous localities, namely Oppdal in Central Norway and Stryn in West Norway.
Vekveselva river (in Oppdal) has a step-pool morphology and a steep slope, which makes it very attractive from the hydraulic and geomorphological perspectives, as this makes the river and valley susceptible to both floods and landslides. The weather was cloudy and slightly windy and snow has started to accumulate in the last few weeks. These factors, together with an unstable phone/GPS signal, made the task of using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (aka drone) challenging. In addition, most of the selected reach had ice accumulation. In order to gain expertise and overcome the aforementioned challenges, WoWW allied with the department of Geography at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
The Norwegian Meteorological Institute forecasted heavy rain for Storelva river in Utvik (in Stryn) during early November and Michal and Adina drove to the West of Norway spontaneously. Although the weather resulted drier than predicted and the river barely carried water, the snow from the mountains has not yet reached the river downstream by the fjord. The wind did not encourage to fly the drone, however, they did experiment with acoustic (i.e. ADCP) and salt dilution gauging methods.
Storelva river in Utvik was flooded during summer 2017 and now flood-protection measures have been implemented. The channel has been excavated and a dyke has been built to protect the adjacent houses, formerly affected by the flash flood. The new channel shape demands for a new data set for ongoing research on flood risk in Stryn. The Norwegian winter is coming and the field work season comes to an end. Further attempts to obtain field data in Central and West Norway will be conducted during spring, once the snow has melted.
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.