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Analysis and control of extreme events using Wetropolis flood demonstrator

Academic lead
Onno Bokhove (Mathematics)
Industrial lead
Sean MacCarthy (Hydrotec Ltd) and Alexandra Scott (JBA Trust)
Gregory de Boer (Mechanical Engineering)
Project themes
Environmental Flows, Geophysical and Astrophysical Flows, Other: Outreach, flood control and mitigation, Underpinning Methods for Fluid Dynamics

The Wetropolis flood demonstrator [1] is a portable set-up designed to provide the general public a visualisation of what a return period is for extreme rainfall and flooding events. In general, people have difficulty comprehending what it means when a flood is classified as a 1 in 100 year flood. It means that, on average, a flood of that magnitude, based on data analysis and extreme-value theory, occurs once in 100 years, not that once such a flood happens, it takes another 100 years for a flood of the magnitude to happen again. Wetropolis showcases extreme rainfall and flood events with a 1 in 6:06min return period, short enough to wait for on average 6:06min and long enough to appreciate that it is a rare event on the time scale of viewing the set-up. Unexpectedly, Wetropolis drew the attention of flood professionals and academics, who suggested to use it for research on flood control [2], data assimilation [2], effects of climate change, education and as a flood-science policy tool, the latter which we have developed ourselves [3]. The project allows exploration of research in these various directions, to be determined by the prospective CDT student within the team. 

Fig. 1 Overview cartoon of the Wetropolis Flood Demonstrator during a showcasing.