Morphological factors often play a key role in the operation, maintenance and improvement of federal waterways. Morphological processes are significantly influenced by hydraulics (discharge distribution, flow velocities, flow depths) as well as grain-size composition and riverbed structure. As a result, river training structures (e.g. groynes and longitudinal dykes) and sediment management are essential components of a well-functioning waterway infrastructure.
Designing, planning and supporting river engineering measures requires very specific knowledge. Successful execution of ongoing monitoring and detailed analysis of natural and man-made processes ensures an extraordinarily high degree of understanding, making these factors crucial components of successful river engineering. Special challenges arise from the growing importance of ecological issues along rivers.
In addition to carrying out wide-ranging field measurements, both computational and physical models are used to analyse, assess and plan river engineering measures. The BAW’s state-of-the-art infrastructure can run numerical models that are both large-scale (up to 300 km) and long-term (up to 50 years or more). One-, two-and three-dimensional models of flow and sediment transport are employed as needed. Physical models are and will remain an essential tool for tackling particularly complex river engineering problems (e. g. river morphodynamics). All of these models expand our understanding of how river engineering measures impact flow and sediment transport in rivers. In addition, laboratory investigations allow us to gain valuable insights and collect comparative data to support the further development of our computational methods.
Recently, hybrid models are also increasingly being put to use. These combine the advantages of both methods – the computational model’s efficiency with the physical model’s ability to map highly complex physical mechanisms.