Category: Hydraulics & Waterways

400379 - On the role of hydraulic engineering laboratories in times of uncertainty

Monday, Jun 4
8:30 AM – 5:30 PM

Design standards have somewhat simplified the work of a hydraulic engineer in the last century, however, extreme complexity governs the fundamentals of hydraulic engineering. The complexity’s origin lies in the complex nature of fluid flow itself, as well as the large geometric scale water systems can encompass, whilst being relevant over a range of time scales. Technical advances allow ever more detailed computational modelling. Yet, physical modelling is making a comeback in recent times. This paper presents, from a hydraulic engineering laboratory viewpoint, the change that is presently taking place on how we study large-scale water resources processes, thus tackling problems of vital importance to a prosperous society, often associated with natural hazards, e.g. flood risk, river morphological changes, tsunami resilience. More recently we have seen hydraulic engineering laboratories moving away from the more traditional hydraulic structure projects, to areas such as ecohydraulics. Several case studies from the University of Auckland Water Engineering Laboratory are presented. It is highlighted how scale effects and having access to a wide variety of flume sizes are of utmost importance for experimental water engineering research. There is an ever present need for large-scale physical models to play a pivotal role in advancing the engineering’s profession delivery of fit-for-purpose implementation to society’s water problems. Finally, this paper will address on how to make decisions in the face of uncertainty and how risk is perceived differently by individuals and groups – herein hydraulic engineering river processes are used to showcase the complex links between engineering and society.

Heide Friedrich

University of Auckland