When will the floods reach us?

News - 31 October 2016

A storm surge in the North Sea and 40 dikes breached. No one in the Netherlands knows whether the water will reach their house in the next two hours or two days. TU Delft Master's student Louise Klingen has developed a flood model that can calculate the course of every flood for the next 24 hours in just 15 minutes. Klingen will graduate at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences on 2 November.

Fifteen minutes

When managing the consequences of a flood, it is useful to know the direction in which the water is flowing and when it will reach an important intersection. ‘My research project is about a flood model for the whole of the Netherlands. Using this 3Di-model it is possible to calculate the course of every flood for the next 24 hours in just 15 minutes’, says student Louise Klingen. 

Too slow

There has never been a model like this before. Because the flood models currently used in practice calculate too slowly, the only way of gaining an insight into the course of a flood has been to use maps showing the results of previously-calculated theoretical scenarios.
‘In my research, I started by working out the added value a nationwide model would have in managing a flood. I then investigated which processes the model would need to include in order to calculate the course of a flood realistically. Finally, an initial version of this model was incorporated in 3Di, making it possible to calculate a breach and the course of a flood for any random place on the coast.’

Crisis partners

Of all the different partners involved in this kind of crisis, it is the water authorities and safety regions that have most to gain from effective flood forecasting. The calculated flood course is relevant for water authorities as it enables them to know in which direction and in what sequence the land will flood and they can use the same model to calculate the effect of any countermeasures quickly. The model is primarily useful for the safety regions because it tells them how long a specific route can still be used to transport materials or evacuate the population.

Water Top Sector Water Ambassador

The Dutch government's Top Sector for Water awarded Louise a study grant and she is also Water Ambassador for the sector. ‘It was a unique opportunity to engage fully with the professional field while still at university.’

More information

Graduation presentation by Louise Klingen: Wednesday 2 November, 16.00 in room E, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, followed by informal drinks (http://www.citg.tudelft.nl/over-faculteit/contact-en-bereikbaarheid/ )
Contact Louise Klingen: louiseklingen@gmail.com, @louiseklingen, https://nl.linkedin.com/in/louiseklingen 
Roy Meijer, Science Information Officer, TU Delft, +31 (0)15 278 1751, r.e.t.meijer@tudelft.nl