Flash flood depicted in new journal article

The flash flood affecting Utvik in Stryn municipality (western Norway) in summer 2017 was documented on-site and has been studied ever since it occurred. This flash flood devastated Utvik (the hometown of WoWW’s project leader, Oddbjørn Bruland) and was the trigger to initiate the World of Wild Waters project. The extreme hydrologic event was analyzed in a journal article published last year in the international journal Hydrology Research. This article served as basis for a further analysis of the hydraulics during the flash flood, which was carried out in a recent study by Adina and Michal (work package 2). The hydraulic study, titled “The Story of a Steep River: Causes and Effects of the Flash Flood on 24 July 2017 in Western Norway“, is now published in the international journal Water (Switzerland), which is open access.

The hydraulic study assesses the potential causes of the flash flood based on visual documentation (for instance, in the figure below) and post-event fieldwork. The field observations, combined with soft data (testimonies from eyewitnesses), helped to understand the potential effects of future flash floods in similar mountain rivers. Additionally, the journal article is supplemented by a dataset (publicly available in Zenodo) that can be used in future studies, where the flash flood could be modelled numerically.

Visual documentation of the flash flood. Figure from Moraru et al. (2021)

WoWW aims to have a digital twin of the flash flood devastating Utvik. Thus a numerical model of this flash flood might be used for future studies on gamification of natural hazards (work package 4) and risk perception using virtual reality (work package 5).


1st IAHR Young Professionals congress

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.

Flood Risk Management session (credit: IAHR)

Adina presented an overview of her research, namely “Optimization and visualization of numerical models of flash floods in steep Norwegian rivers“, where she compared the computing effort of High-Performance Computing with the standard computing versions for a small 2D hydrodynamic model based on the 2017 flood in Utvik (Western Norway).

Adina’s presentation (credit: IAHR YouTube)

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.

Nitesh’s presentation (credit: IAHR YouTube)

ADPC in Utvik Flood

Reconnaissance fieldtrips during late Autumn

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.


River Flow 2020

The 10th International Conference in Fluvial Hydraulics, organized by TU Delft, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Deltares and Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Netherlands), together with the International Association for Hydro- Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR) and the Netherlands Centre for River Studies (NCR), has been held from the 7th to the 10th of July.

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.

Adina presented the “Current trends in the optimization of hydraulic flood simulations in ungauged steep rivers” in the session “Numerical Modelling – Applications”. Her presentation (available here) summarized few optimization techniques nowadays applied to the the hydraulic analysis of floods and addressed their advantages and limitations when applied to steep rivers where historical hydrologic data is seldom available.

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 Digital River masterclass, held during River Flow 2020 (Photo: E. Viparelli)

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).


22nd Northern Research Basins conference (Yellowknife, Canada)

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.

Oddbjørn’s presentation was titled “Extreme flood in small steep catchments: how extreme can it become?” and covered the complex hydrology around the flood event that affected his hometown, Utvik, exactly two years ago, in July 2017. Also, several recent flood events affecting the southwest of Norway were presented. The take-home message was that these events are more extreme and more recurring than ever as northern regions are suffering a global warming trend. Adina’s presentation, on the other hand, tackled a virtual experiment on “River idealization for identification of critical locations in steep rivers using 2D hydrodynamic modelling and GIS“. This allows correlating hydrologic and topographic parameters to sensitive areas worth focusing on during more detailed studies (such as channel bends) without the interference of case-specific conditions. The study is time and cost-saving oriented, aiming at optimizing flood risk analysis.

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.