From the Alzette to the Sûre, the Chiers or the Moselle, the rivers crossing the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are experiencing major flooding affecting homes, businesses and roads. In response to this national emergency, many Luxembourg actors are mobilising.
Among them, LIST environmental researchers are using their transversal competences in hydrology, hydrogeology and remote sensing for an extremely precise flood monitoring. While part of the team travels around the country to measure flows and document overflows, the others generate real-time flood maps using satellite images.
Thanks to their expertise in remote sensing and hydraulic modelling, LIST researchers have developed the HASARD® software, an unprecedented tool for generating real-time flood maps on a global scale. This innovation made by LIST has already proven its usefulness during floods all over the world – notably those linked to cyclone Idai in Mozambique in March 2019 – and led our researchers to launch the WASDI spin-off.
"Our technology allows us to provide a near-real time overview of the floods that have been affecting Luxembourg and the Greater Region for several days," explains Patrick Matgen, who created this earth observation system with Marco Chini, Renaud Hostache and Ramona Pelich. The new version of the HASARD® tool can generate even more detailed maps, showing with greater precision the urban areas affected by floods.
As an integral part of their research activities for several decades, the data collected on water pathways (infiltration into the soil, surface runoff, water residence time) are particularly important for better understanding and anticipating extreme hydrometeorological phenomena such as the floods observed in recent days.
"It is only by improving our knowledge of the catchment areas’ functioning, their capacity to collect, store and redistribute rainwater, that we will be able to better anticipate their response to increasingly significant climatic and anthropogenic forcing," explains Laurent Pfister, who is in charge of the team.
Thanks to an unusually dense observation network, LIST environmental researchers have been able to use hydrometeorological data series which were almost two decades old – demonstrating the decisive role of the nature of the geological substrates and their contrasting degrees of permeability in the genesis of floods.