Field: Flood preventing, Natural disaster management
Global Technical function: Managing
Technical Function Unit: Identifying, In situ physical sensing, Modelling


The RAMWASS Decision Support System (RAMWASS_DSS) is a modelling tool for assessing risks and managing the negative impacts caused by global change and human activities on the water/sediment/soil system at river basin scale in fluvial ecosystems.

In the field of natural disaster management, models are used for planning, designing and forecasting floods to adopt mitigation measures in quasi-real time. Additionally, the devastating impacts of important contamination accidents in relevant fluvial ecosystems have increased the interest in water-sediment-soil modelling. Decision Support Systems (DSS) based on models are increasingly being used by engineers and scientists in the field of flood preventing, with a specific interest in including the water-sediment-soil system

To better control floods, the project (funded under the FP6 program) has developed an advanced DSS for flood prevention has been developed, integrating environmental and geo-physical data, in-situ physical sensing devices and geo-referenced information, advanced computer simulation, graphical visualisation and artificial intelligence tools. The project has been coordinated by International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE), which is based in Spain.

The developed tool has been obtained from the combination of three different modelling tools, which have been developed by several research centers and universities; the first one is a a hydrodynamic simulation model (called Cálculo en Alta Resolución de Propagación de Avenidas-CARPA), which uses a domain discretization in finite volumes and applies Saint Venant equations to predict flood routes. Additionally, CARPA has been adapted to address pollutant transportation and land management by the Universities of Hanover and Luneburg. On the other hand, an additional geomechanical simulation code (PLASCON 3D), has been added to the RAMWASS_DSS, to give information about soil erosion, compaction and subsidence fenomena. PLASCON 3D has been developed by the International Centre for Mechanical Sciences (CISM), a non-profit organization located in Italy. Finally, CIMNE has integrated the different modules and databases of the RAMWASS_DSS, adapting the pre/postprocessing system to the needs of the DSS multilevel user interface.

The efficiency of the system has been tested in several areas of study: the aquatic and wetland ecosystems adjacent to river basins of the Doñana Marshes (Spain), the Elbe Riverland (Germany) and the Po River Delta (Italy). In the Doñana study the analysis has been performed using the CARPA tool with their hydrodynamic and bedload transport modules. The modelisation allows simulating water depth evolution and water velocity evolution, as well as other phenomena like erosion and sedimentation. Elbe river Study, on the other hand, includes an analysis of bedload transport in addition to the hydrodynamic simulation. Finally, subsidence phenomena were studied in the Po River, using the Plascon 3D tool and dealing with coupled thermo-hygro-mechanical compaction/subsidence analyses.

The system can be of interest for emergency organizations and governments (local, regional and national) for identifying dangers of floods in specific zones. locating zones where water reaches high velocity or depth can help them to take preventive measures. The system is ready to be used (TRL 9), and several new DSS have been developed under the scope of new projects (RAMFLOOD, URBAQUA, etc), incorporating new advances like in-situ sensors, real-time monitorization and new calculation methods. As the system is not proprietary, due to its high specificity, it can only be applied to the mentioned zones (Doñana marshes, Elbe River and Po River). In order to obtain new Decission Support Systems, new computing work should be carried out, making use of the developed modelling tools.