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Climate Changing? Meuse Adapting!

Tuesday, december 1 2009

News from Flanders Hydraulics Research

1. Climate Change impact scenarios

Flanders Hydraulics Research (FHR) in Antwerp ordered a study at Leuven University Hydraulics Laboratory on the “Effect of Climate Change on discharges in high and low water situations and total water availability”. FHR has no hydrologic models for the Meuse catchment basin and the AMICE-project was a trigger to extend the study.

Compared to the total area of the Meuse catchment area, the Flemish part is relatively small; moreover hydrologic models covering the whole of the international Meuse basin already exist in the Netherlands. The Dutch delegation of the International Meuse Commission brought researchers from FHR and Deltares together and a study to calculate the 3 Belgian climate change scenarios for hydrologic impact with the models from Deltares was ordered by FHR.
These three scenarios are:

1.      High or wet scenario: more rainfall in winter, limited run-off decrease in summer

2.      Mean or mild scenario: comparable to the actual situation in winter, dryer in summer

3.      Low or dry scenario: less run-off in winter and summer

The average yearly discharges for low flows are significantly lower for the low scenario and significantly higher for the higher scenario compared to the actual situation. All scenarios are unambiguous for future summer discharge: the average summer discharge becomes lower than half discharge in the control period (1961-1990).

In all scenarios September has the lowest discharge.

An important remark has to be made on low flows: as indicated earlier the calibration of the HBV model is done with a focus on high water applications. Therefore hydrodynamic routing with SOBEK model is calculated to incorporate the effect of wave damping, decreasing the maximum discharges with +/-10%. De Wit et al. (2007) suggest that influence of winter rainfall in average summer discharge is underestimated.

2. Update of Meuse knowledge

In 2004, Flanders Hydraulics Research made a report with an inventory of all types of aspects relevant for water management for the Meuse catchments.

In the AMICE project, consultant IMDC is updating this information and making a new overview report structured in the same way as for the AMICE literature database. All relevant documents will be added to this database before the end of 2009, when the inventory report has to be ready.

Although the social and ecologic consequences of flooding are not in the AMICE proposal any more, FHR decides to work together with the Higher institute of Labour Studies (HIVA, KULeuven) on a case study about social aspects of resilience. The Flemish side of the Grensmaas (border in between Belgium and the Netherlands) is selected for this case study. The information will be quantitative but will not be multiplied with or added to the quantitative economic risk information at this stage.

3. Workshop on Climate Change in Flanders

More than 40 Flemish colleagues of the water sector came to Flanders Hydraulics Research on October 29th for a workshop about climate change impact on hydrology with a focus on the effects on the navigable waterways in Flanders.

For the Meuse, the study of Deltares for Flanders Hydraulics Research and the AMICE project were presented. The KULeuven Hydraulics Laboratory presented the methodology of the project “Climate Change Impact on Hydrology” (CCI-Hydr) and the results on high and low flows on the Flemish Rivers.

Written questions were submitted during the coffee break and ordered and grouped by prof. Jean Berlamont who lead the discussion. Some of the main issues:

-          Water managers need more intermediate results: 2020, 2050 instead of results for 2100 only

-          Combined influence of sea level rise and changed rainfall-runoff

-          Link between spatial planners and water managers is still too weak

-          How (un)certain are the results? And how robust are the conclusions?

Presentations given during this workshop and a link to background documents are given on www.watlab.be

Attached documents :

The Partners involved in this news :

  • FHR
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