Review of Hydraulic Flood Modeling Software used in Belgium, Netherlands, and United Kingdom

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The movement of flood waters through the landscape can be approximated using many different methods. Describing natural physical phenomena using numerical methods requires making broad assumptions to develop governing equations. While simple hydraulic modeling methods may be sufficient for approximating propagation of flood peaks through river channels, more complex hydraulic analyses may be necessary to incorporate effects of infrastructure or complex overland flow. Advanced models are capable of modeling more detailed physical phenomena, but this does not correspond to a decrease in uncertainty.

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.

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Review of Hydraulic Flood Modeling Software used in Belgium, Netherlands, and United Kingdom
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