Science News

HYDRALAB+: Modeling the Coastal Impact of Climate Change

HR Wallingford is to play a vital role in a new €10 million project that will improve the prediction of environmental change and, ultimately, shape the future of international climate change policy.


As part the EU-funded HYDRALAB+ project, scientists from HR Wallingford will work with 23 partner organizations from across Europe to address the urgent need to understand the consequences of climate change on rivers, estuaries and coasts. The four-year project will create closer ties between international research institutes and provide training and access to experimental facilities to improve how climate change is modeled.

Dr James Sutherland at HR Wallingford is leading the three areas of HYDRALAB+ that focus on innovation, exchange of experimental data and transnational access. The innovation work package will build ties between scientists, engineers and instrument manufacturers in order to develop instrumentation and testing procedures beyond the current state of the art. The data exchange package will make open access experimental data sets available while transnational access package will provide researchers with access to large scale hydraulic modeling facilities across the partner organizations.

Dr Sutherland explains: “Climate change models are only as good as the data that drives them. The extensive experimental data collected as part of HYDRALAB+ will feed through into powerful predictive models that will ultimately inform government decision-making and mitigate the risks resulting from climate change impacts.”

As part of the project, pan-European researchers will have access to the world-class Fast Flow Facility, the latest addition to HR Wallingford’s suite of hydraulic modeling facilities. The large-scale 75 m long wave-current-sediment flume is equipped with advanced instrumentation allowing researchers to examine and measure in detail the complex interactions that take place in the coastal environment.

Dr Sutherland added: “HR Wallingford has the most extensive commercial hydraulic modeling facilities in Europe, and this year is on track to be the busiest for physical modeling in our 65 year history. As part of the transnational access package, we will make our new Fast Flow Facility available to scientists from around Europe, helping them to design and implement new and exciting research projects to examine the impact of climate change at the coast.”

Dr Mike Dearnaley, Chief Technical Director, said: “The HYDRALAB+ project will complete important research that will help guide climate change policy in future. HR Wallingford’s contribution to HYDRALAB+ reflects the practical research and leading edge solutions we provide in the fields of climate change, coastal management and hydraulic modeling.”

The inaugural HYDRALAB+ project meeting will take place in Hull, UK in January 2016.

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