conference

39th IAHR World Congress (Granada, Spain)

The 39th World Congress organized by the International Association for Hydro-Environmental Research (IAHR) was held last week in Granada (south Spain; see figure below, left). Adina Moraru (work package 2) has attended this biennial congress that included 98 oral regular sessions, 15 special sessions, 4 high-level panels, 8 technical visits, hundreds of posters on display (see figure below, right) several side events, workshops and master classes.

The week was packed with meetings of different IAHR committees and special sessions. Adina attended the so-called “Institutes Meeting”, a networking-oriented side event (see upper three photographs below) where several public and private research instutions were invited to present their research and diversity (upper-left: Ana Adeva-Bustos from SINTEF, Norway, upper-center: Cristina Anacabe from IHE-Delft, the Netherlands). Tom Soo, the executive director for IAHR attended the meeting (upper-right photograph) and initiated a brainstorm for future events. Another interesting special session was the “Review of the IAHR Green Paper: Towards practical flood assessment for development projects“, coordinated by Stefan Haun (head of the Hydraulic Lab. at University of Stuttgart, Germany; lower photograph below) with Alastair Barnett (HYDRA Software, New Zealand; lower photograph below) and James Ball (University of Technology Sydney, Australia) as authors of the paper and invited speakers.

The breaks and late evenings were reserved for networking events especially oriented to early careers. For instance, the John F. Kennedy Student Paper Competition held (see list of finalists in upper-left and upper-center figures below) before the Young Professionals Assembly and Young Professionals Night (upper-right photograph portraits some of the attendees to the latter networking event crossing Genil river). Adina (lower photograph, second from right to left in back row), as co-founder and president of IAHR Scandinavia Young Professionals Network (founded in late 2020), got a VIP invitation to the Young Professionals Night. During the evening, a Kahoot competition was arranged by the local YPN, IAHR Spain YPN, and prizes were handed to the winners (lower photograph: the 1st prize was handed to Markus Bähner, a friendly master student from TUM in Germany).

The oral presentations were grouped in themes, and Adina attended the ones focused on Computational and Experimental Methods and, of course, Extreme Events: from Droughts to Floods (see photographs below). Some highlights of these thematic sessions were presentations on the use of numerical models to investigate intermittent streams, i.e. small rivers that do not always contain flowing water, under increasingly pressing climate change conditions (left-hand figure: Prof. Michael Tritthart from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences BOKU, Vienna, Austria) or the recently developed drought prevention and management toolbox by the United Nations in collaboration with DHI (right-hand figure; UN Environment Programme-DHI Centre), which is supported by an openly available database and uses specific indicators to build an early warning system for droughts. The latter is very related to Adina‘s previous work on indicators controlling river channel erosion during flash floods (conference paper), as well as on the identification of critical points in steep rivers using numerical modelling (conference paper) for a better and faster flood modelling. She went home very pleased and excited!

Finally, the Congress Gala (upper-left and lower-center photographs) and Closing Ceremony ended the 39th IAHR World Congress. The Congress Gala was held at the Parque de las Ciencias, where they carry out scientific dissemination, and a delightful flamenco show entertained the attendees (upper-left photograph). So what’s next? The Young Professionals Assembly held earlier in the week brought up forthcoming activities for early careers (upper-right photograph), and several YPNs will arrange these activities to help their members learn and network. Some of the IAHR Scandinavia Young Professionals Network board attended these events (lower-center, from left to right: Slaven Conevski, co-founder and secretary for IAHR Scandinavia YPN, and Adina Moraru, co-founder and president for IAHR Scandinavia YPN) and will take part in future initiatives. Although this congress is held biennially, as the 39th IAHR World Congress was delayed 1 year due to the pandemic, the 40th IAHR World Congress will take place in August 2023 in Vienna, Austria, right in schedule.

From left to right: Slaven Conevski (Secretary for IAHR Scandinavia YPN), Adina Moraru (president for IAHR Scandinavia YPN), Théo Dezert (posdoc at NTNU) & Geir Helge Kiplesund (PhD candidate at NTNU)
conference

NTNU Digital Transformation seminar 2022

Every year since NTNU’s Digital Transformation initiative started in 2018, WoWW (as one of the 9 projects funded by this initiative) is invited to present its latest results. WoWW’s presentation followed directly after the event was introduced by director for NTNU Digital, John Krogstie (see image below). With some of the WoWW members spread across the country due to exchanges, our presentation was partly in Trondheim and partly remote.

John Krogstie, director for NTNU Digital, introduces the seminar (©Adina Moraru)

Oddbjørn Bruland, project leader for World of Wild Waters and team leader for work package 2 (see image below) creating hydrologic and hydraulic models of flash floods , introduced the project presentation with an impacting question for the audience: “Is it safe where you live?” followed by an animation of a 2D hydraulic simulation of the flash flood that severely damaged his hometown in 2017 (the case was widely covered by different news outlets, and the flood’s hydrology and hydraulics are analyzed in two of WoWW’s journal publications: Bruland (2020) and Moraru et al. (2021)). The follow-up question to this animation was “Does this scare you enough to act?“. If your answer is “no“, you need to continue reading… and watch the whole presentation in WoWW’s YouTube channel (linked below).

Oddbjørn Bruland, project leader for WoWW, presents the motivation for WoWW’s research (©Adina Moraru)
Full recording of the presentation (©Adina Moraru)

Gebray Habtu Alene, PhD candidate in work package 3 in charge of studying flow landslides of sensitive clays, such as the devastating episode in Gjerdrum (Norway) on the 30 December 2020 presented the integrated workflow from his numerical modelling of the quick clay landslide beforementioned (see image below) to its preparation for gamification in work package 4. This is not as straightforward as one might expect, and the team identified a significant obstacle to overcome during this workflow. I personally found it fascinating how quickly the Virtual Reality clip that Gebray shared triggered a response in the audience! Check out the video recording of the presentation above to see what I mean.

Gebray Habtu Alene, PhD candidate in work package 3, showcases the difference between scientific visualization of results and their gamification in Virtual Reality (©Adina Moraru)

Lastly, Andrew Perkis, team leader for work package 4 (see image below) responsible for creating an immersive and interactive experience of natural hazards concluded the project presentation by addressing the gap that WoWW has had to bridge throughout the project duration. Although research projects oftentimes encounter obstacles along the way, the gap between work packages in WoWW had little to do with research and external consultants were needed to fill the role of “the black box” that converges from numerical simulation results to graphically visualized outputs.

Andrew Perkis, team leader for work package 4, highlights the main challenges of WoWW and the Digital Transformation initiative (©Adina Moraru)

World of Wild Waters

WoWW – new technology for better flood preparedness

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.

Illustration of the Safe Rivers project and its connection to WoWW (© O. Bruland)

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.

World of Wild Waters

WoWW presented at IBM’s end-of-the-year seminar 2019

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.

IBM’s PhD candidates within the World of Wild Waters presenting at the department’s end-of-the-year seminar (©A. Juárez)

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.

World of Wild Waters

Serious gaming and flood risk communication in Gemini.no

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.

Foto Anne Jørgensen Bruland_20170724_080512
Documentation on the flood event affecting the municipality of Utvik in July 2017, where WoWW’s project leader and his family, among many others, were affected (©Anne Jørgensen Bruland)

The original article, written in Norwegian, can be briefly summarized into:

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.

World of Wild Waters

WoWW’s project leader interviewed by Lørn.Tech

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.

Original podcast (in Norwegian)

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.

Related image
Example of mixed reality (VR+AR) used in flood risk communication (Photo: The Weather Channel)

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.