New challenges in hydraulic research and engineering

Ian Gaskell recently attended the 5th IAHR Europe Congress which focused on new challenges in hydraulic research and engineering. Below, he tells us more about the event and what the rest of us missed out on.


The congress was held in Trento, an alpine town in Northern Italy. What I would have given for a conference deep in the heart of West Bromwich, or perhaps Slough… maybe next time.

Bringing together members of the hydraulic community including scientists, experts and early career researchers, the congress dealt with themes linked to water, such as hydraulics, hydrology, fluid mechanics, and morphology.

Some of the topics were fairly niche, modelling the impact of ship propellers on sea bed organisms and sediment for example. Some were just confusing, such as 25 slides of inexplicable equations to try and explain the design of a new sea wall.

But there was a wide range of interesting talks on a variety of topics including:

  • Impacts of storms on coastal areas – considering longshore variability of loading and the resistance of coastal barriers and implications for breaching. Discussions covered how we can better predict future coastal breaches.
  • Infrastructure and hazard – methods of combining flood damage models with transport models to more fully assess the impact of flooding on society.
  • Assessment of building structures and tsunamis – lab tests on the use of porous buildings now leading to new designs allowing tsunamis to pass through the bottom floor of buildings while resident’s shelter/survive on the top floor.
  • Use of time exposure images to determine offshore sand bar migration and how this relates to storm events and wave direction.
  • Optimisation of tidal range schemes – adjusting tidal barrier operation to better match changes in the tidal range through neap and spring tides to improve hydro power generation.

Overall, an interesting congress, in a nice setting. The only negatives of the trip were a few howling personal errors such as booking an apartment with no air-conditioning (my bedroom was at least 63 degrees Celsius) and heading to the wrong airport on my way back… the stress was real.

Want to know more?

Email Ian Gaskell for more information on the conference. You can also find out more on our flood modelling and engineering web pages.



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