Numerical Simulation in Waterways Engineering

Numerical simulation is an indispensable method for studying waterways engineering issues. Simulations help provide insights into the physical processes in water bodies and to make predictions about how waterways will develop based on their existing state and what will be the impacts of anthropogenic interventions. The results of numerical simulations are an important contribution to evaluating and optimising measures undertaken on free-flowing and impounded waterways, estuaries or coastal waters.

The simulation software used by the BAW is complemented with methods for data conditioning and for analysing and visualising the computation results. However, before using simulation software it is essential to ensure that all relevant physical processes characteristic of the water body in the study area can be modelled as close to nature as possible. If necessary, the software is modified or enhanced based on the basic equations and assumptions and then checked for accuracy by means of examples. When the software is ready for use, models that can be individually adapted (e.g Middle Rhine, tidal Elbe etc.) can be created to provide answers to waterways engineering questions.

The BAW has a multitude of models for numerical simulation at its disposal, which can be used for a broad range of applications and take specific local conditions and individual simulation periods into account. The computation results are graphically represented and turned into animations so as to better illustrate dynamic processes. Results are compared with data from field observations for calibration and validation purposes. Simulation as such is used, amongst other things, for calculating characteristic values (e.g. water level for a flood with a specific recurrence interval, tidal characteristics) and changing these in forecasting.