Rivers are a crucial part of our habitat, but are increasingly threatened by the extremes of climate change. Prolonged drought followed by heavy rainfall puts pressure on our waterways, resulting in flooding, erosion and deposition. Our colleagues in the Water business unit are fully committed to understanding and managing these complex dynamics.

Cooperation with the Flemish Supercomputer Centre

In our efforts for better water management, we work closely with the Flemish Supercomputer Centre (VSC). Thanks to exploratory grants and long-term contracts, we can benefit from advanced computing power, also known as high performance computing (HPC). HPC is a collection of computing power where the total is much more powerful than a sum of individual PCs. Supercomputers, which are at least 10,000 to 100,000 times faster than ordinary PCs, are used for these systems.

Supercomputers can be used in various ways in analysing and modelling 

  1. Water-related phenomena,
  2. Urban planning and mobility,
  3. Environmental studies, and
  4. Planning, development and management of infrastructure projects. 

This innovative approach allows us to gain not only faster, but also more accurate insights into the behaviour of rivers and valley areas. This enables us to be proactive in managing waterways and protecting communities from flooding and erosion.

Barebeek: A case study in Belgian river modelling

In a recent study, we thus examined the Barebeek, an important tributary of the Dyle, with the Flemish Supercomputer. Advanced simulations provided a detailed picture of how this waterway responds to different conditions, from water movement to riverbed change.

Using powerful computer models, we analyse the hydrological, hydrodynamic and hydromorphodynamic processes of rivers and valley areas. This enables us not only to understand the current situation, but also to predict future scenarios and develop appropriate solutions. This is how we contribute to the sustainable management of our waterways and protect our environment for future generations.