In the Netherlands, just outside the city of Delft the engineers of Deltares Research Institute are carrying out the final tests on their new machine that would create waves as huge as 5 m. The new facility that took two years to fabricate at the cost of 26m euros will open in October 2015. Their machines make colossal waves in a huge concrete tank using a 10m-high steel wall that pushes the water back and forth into a huge concrete tank that can hold 9 million litres of water fed from a reservoir at 1,000 litres a second.
When the movement of the wall is regulated the choppy waters of stormy seas or a single tsunami surge can be simulated. The water surges through a narrow 300m-long tank at the end of which scientists can place full-scale flood-defence technology, such as dams, dykes and barriers, to test the efficacy against Nature’s fury.
The Dutch have initiated the research as two-thirds of their land is at risk from flooding. Moreover, the Dutch experienced a devastating storm surge in the North Sea in the winter of 1953. In the Netherlands, 1,500 sq km of land was flooded, and nearly 2,000 people were killed. In the UK, too, sea walls were breached, and more than 300 lost their lives. The death toll at sea was more than 200. New Delta Works, a network of dams, locks, dykes and barriers were constructed to protect the most vulnerable parts of the country.
In Zeeland, in the southwest of the country the Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier, a huge structure, joining two peninsulas was constructed. Its sluice gates can close if sea conditions turn bad. Though the Netherlands is better protected than many countries, it still needs to future-proof its systems.
In the meantime, the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change’s 2013 report warns that in 2100, global mean sea levels could rise by between 28 cm and 98 cm. Another study published by scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found in the worst case, 600 million people could be flooded annually and this could cost $100 trillion per year globally.
Experts concur that rigid systems won’t work. The “softer”, natural systems, such as sand dunes or the grass-covered dykes, are easier to adjust and can be built up quickly if required. Delta Flume the research facility that creates huge waves will test which system works well in the face of storm and huge waves. The World is facing a risk of getting inundated at many places and so facilities such as Delta Flume, offer means of checking our coastal defense system.