Dutch scientists have created the world’s biggest man-made wave in a factory at the Deltares Research Institute, just outside the city of Delft in the Netherlands.
In a huge concrete tank, sits 9 million litres of water, pumped in from a reservoir at 1,000 litres a second.
This giant whirl pool is called the ‘Delta Flume’ and it has the ability to create the largest artificial waves in the world.
At the base of the water tank, sits a 10m-high steel wall that acts as an agitator – pushing water back and forth to create various types of movement, from choppy waters to a tsunami surge.
This movement is then captured by a variety of flood-defence measures such as dykes, dunes, dams and barriers, so the scientists can test each material on its ability to protect against flooding.
Netherlands currently leads the world in flood management technologies, a necessary advancement due to their susceptibility to flooding. Two-thirds of their land is at risk from flooding, with farmers and inhabitants of the low-lying country, fighting against the natural disasters for more than a thousand years.
They also have first hand experience when it comes to the horrors of flooding. In 1953, nearly 2000 people were killed when a high tide and storm surge in the North Sea led to 1,500 sq km of land being flooded.
It was at this turning point in the Netherlands’ history that flooding became a major priority. That’s when Delta Works was created to instal a series of locks, dams and barriers to protect against further atrocities.
Coastal ecologist, Dr Bregje van Wesenbeeck says that whilst the Netherlands is better protected than most countries, it still needs to “future-proof its systems.”
“But the further you plan ahead, the harder it is to predict what is going to happen,” she explains.
“Your flood risk protection measures need to be adaptive and not very rigid. You don’t want to lock yourself in. For example, for the storm surge barrier there’s a bit of a challenge, because it is kind of rigid, so if there is large sea-level rise we need to adapt to it,”
With a UN report stating that sea levels could rise by between 28cm and 98cm by 2100, flood protection and disaster relief is of paramount importance if countries are to protect their citizens from future disasters.