During May of 2010, researchers from the University of Iowa visited Belgium, the Netherlands, England and Wales as part of the International Perspectives in Water Resources Science and Management course. These destination countries were selected based on their historic flood protection efforts and their ―Living with Floods‖ mitigation philosophy. The theme of the course, ―Living with Floods‖ was especially appropriate given that many students taking the course were conducting research for the recently established Iowa Flood Center. The Iowa Flood Center (IFC) was created with the mission to perform advanced research and education about floods.
IFC shared similar research interests and mission statements as many of the organizations visited during the course. These entities gather real-time hydrologic data within their respective regions in order to evaluate flood risk. Hydrologic data are used to produce a variety of forecast products using the latest numerical modeling and data assimilation techniques. A vital component of these entities’ flood forecasting efforts is to effectively communicate numerical simulation results and corresponding flood risk to the general public. IFC was in the early stages of developing a flood forecasting framework, hence, visiting established forecasting centers provided many opportunities to discuss and observe different approaches to flood mitigation.
Hydraulic modeling is an important element of establishing a robust flood forecasting framework. Simulation results from hydraulic models can be used to produce inundation maps that community officials or the general public can use to evaluate their flood risk. This paper discusses general hydraulic modeling approaches and a review of software used by different organizations in Europe to issue flood forecasts.