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HYDRALAB+ Adapting to climate change

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - HYDRALAB-PLUS (HYDRALAB+ Adapting to climate change)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2019-08-31

Countries worldwide face the challenge of adapting to climate change. The aim of HYDRALAB is to strengthen the coherence of experimental hydraulic environmental research by improving the infrastructure so that they can not only facilitate progress in this field but also contribute better to solutions related to adaptation to climate change.

Networking activities have involved a wider community and stakeholders in production of the project's deliverables. Joint research activities adopted a multi-disciplinary approach and focused on morphological and ecological interactions at laboratory scales to improve real-life predictions related to climate change, while attention was given to measurement techniques, data management and the re-use of data. Facilities from 10 leading institutes were available to the scientific community for promising research projects, the so-called ‘Transnational Access’.
"Main results Network Activities:

In total 6 HYDRALAB+ Workshop Events were organised to meet all partner representatives, stakeholders and special guests, a perfect opportunity to discuss project’s progress and preliminary results. During the final HYDRALAB year two Workshop Events were organised in September 2018 in Catania (Italy) and in May 2019 in Bucharest (Romania).

The Catania event included a special workshop ""International cooperation outside Europe"" to focus on future cooperation with facilities, experiments and networks similar to HYDRALAB outside Europe and possible exchange of knowledge about ""nature-based solutions"" and experimental research challenges. Climate change and disaster risk reduction in Europe was explained by Dr. Sergio Castellari (EEA). Representatives from top institutes from China, the US, Japan, Chile, Russia and Korea presented their research facilities and experiences with solutions based on nature. In Catania the International Advisory Board confirmed the progress made by HYDRALAB in (i) addressing fundamental questions related to the role of physical modelling in adaptation to climate change and (ii) advancing technical innovations.

Within the framework of building a virtual HYDRALAB community a strong online presence, both through the website content and also through social media was created via Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Social media was used to generate more engagement and interaction outside the original HYDRALAB research community.

Main results Joint Research Activities:

JRA1, Representing Climate Change in Physical Experiments (RECIPE) by UHull

In addition of previously produced deliverables - D8.1 ‘Critical review of challenges for representing climate change in physical models’ and deliverable D8.2 ‘Protocols for representing variability and unsteadiness in flume facilities’ - the remaining final reports (D8.3 D8.4 and D8.5) were submitted.

A thorough review of the current knowledge and understanding of the scaling of time dependent morphodynamic processes in physical laboratory studies was provided (D8.3). The review delivered a series of protocols to assist with the design and the selection of timescales for physical models where sediment transport processes and the morphodynamic evolution of aquatic environments are primary objective.

When living biology, such as plants, are included in experiments it is critical to understand their response and behaviour. Plants typically degenerate when introduced to flume settings. There is therefore a need to measure and evaluate the health of plants being used in hydraulic facilities. Innovative measurement techniques and methodological protocols for assessing vegetation health status in hydraulic laboratories – important in eco-hydraulics studies – have been reported (D8.4).

D8.5 ‘Innovative Approaches for scaling biology in time’ reviewed and identified protocols for scale modelling to forecast biogeomorphic system response over timescales relevant to the management of climate change adaptation (decades). Physical modelling offers a unique opportunity to improve our understanding of ecosystem response to climate change.

JRA2: Cross disciplinary Observations of Morphodynamics and Protective structures, Linked to Ecology and Extreme events (COMPLEX) by UPC

Work from previous periods - in which a wide range of experiments and data collections took place – was brought together resulting in the overall report D9.5 ‘Collection of benchmark datasets’. This report contains a detailed explanation of the experimental conditions, a detailed explanation of the measuring equipment, test conditions, the file storage system and all necessary metadata, necessary for the re-use of the collected data by future researchers. Together with the already delivered experimental research guidelines, experimental research with a focus on climate change has been brought to a next level.

JRA3; Facilitating the Re-use and Exchange of Experimental Data (FREE Data) by HRW

The ‘FREE Data’ JRA developed tools and protocols to facilitate sharing of data that allows
effective flux and exchange between physical modelling, numerical modelling and field case studies. The activities contributed to the creation of a free market in open data, which can be used, reused and redistributed by anyone ( The results were reported extensively in 7 deliverables describing the data management plan set up, a critical review, data standards, data repository rules, tools for data interrogation and protocols for the exchange of data.

Main results Transnational Access (TA):

HYDRALAB enabled international groups of researchers to conduct their hydraulic research in selected large and unique facilities, to which they normally do not have access to. Over 300 researchers from across Europe joined this unique EU initiative.

A ‘Transnational Access Joint User Meeting’ was one of the highlights of the Bucharest HYDRALAB Workshop Event. Results of 31 granted research projects were presented. These projects were carried out by international groups of researchers in the large and unique facilities of 10 top research institutes participating in HYDRALAB, to which they normally do not have access to. Proceedings of the TA Conference and each project paper are available on the website:"
Water-related natural hazards - such as floods due to heavy rainfall and extreme river discharges - are devastating resulting into enormous humanitarian and economic losses. Experimental research is an indispensable link in searching for sustainable solutions. Improved and more effective experimental research in Europe will help to better address common climate change adaptation issues. The work will help to establish design criteria and performance limits for desired interventions. Novel approaches will enable biota to be represented in experiments, where they previously could not be used and in other experiments reduce experimental time by removing the need to wait for biofilm growth. Further research on using lightweight sediments will also reduce experimental time enabling more cost-efficient use of infrastructures and improve our understanding of long-term environmental change. Results from fundamental research with combinations of sediment sizes, seagrass and rigid and flexible structures will help improve current technical applications in practice.