This MIT feasibility project investigates the opportunities of an innovation project for determining the biomass potential from local nature management and green maintenance using the publicly available Lidar point cloud of the Netherlands.

The results of this feasibility project may lead to an innovative logistics support service where producers and consumers who play a role in the local biomass chain (e.g. nature management organizations, regional governments, energy producers) are provided advice and insight in the stock and availability of local woody biomass suitable for district heating projects or other local energy projects and biobased applications.

In the planned development path, a prototype of this service will be developed, demonstrated, tested, and validated for a pilot area. Using segmentation and classification algorithms, individual trees will be identified and tree-specific parameters relevant to biomass determination will be extracted. The economic perspective and market potential will also be investigated and relevant literature will be reviewed.

With a total annual turnover of approximately 500 million euros, the Netherlands is a major player in the production, import and export of fruits. In spring, when the night temperature drops below freezing point and fruit trees are flowering, fruit growers must protect their crops. If the flower buds were to freeze then no fruit is formed, resulting in enormous economic losses. Protecting the buds is usually done with the help of water, which requires an average of 30 m3 of water per hectare per hour. If several nights of frost occur the limit on water availability can be reached quickly. Moreover, if the quality of the water is not sufficient (e.g. due to salinity), the water can also cause damage to the crops. As a result, about 30% of the fruit companies in the Netherlands cannot use water for frost protection.

As an alternative to using water, wind machines to protect fruit trees against frost is emerging as a promising new and innovative technique. The propeller of the wind machine mixes the cold air with the higher, warmer air and can thus raise the temperature on the ground by several degrees. This feasibility project explores the opportunities of an innovation project for monitoring the effectiveness of wind machines for frost protection in fruit cultivation using flying sensors (drones) equipped with a thermal thermal imager. The results of this feasibility project may lead to an innovative information service intended for fruit growers to:

  1. Provide insight into the effectiveness of wind machines for frost protection as a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to spraying water. This service can target growers who already use wind machines and want to know how effective wind machines provide protection against night frost, but also growers who are considering wind machines and want to know to what extent the application can be suitable for their field.
  2. Advise how the application of wind machines can be optimized in the business operations of fruit companies. This includes optimal placement of the wind machine in the orchard and whether the wind machine is properly adjusted for the type of fruit being grown. This relies on what rotational speeds are needed for a given temperature increase, at what angle the propeller should be aimed, etc.)

A prototype of this service will be developed and demonstrated for a pilot area through a development process. An important part of the development trajectory is research into and development of a:

  1. State-of-art interactive visualization tool to visualize spatial information within a
  2. (beta) web application such as a dashboard to offer the innovative information service to the end user (fruit grower).

The power of flying sensors with thermal imaging cameras is that the temperature-increasing effect of wind machines can be measured very precisely and can also be mapped spatially. This visual information can provide the fruit grower with insight and confidence that wind machines are effective for frost protection.

This tailor-made training aims to build capacity in using tools to support climate-smart irrigation strategies to improve salinity control and enhance agricultural production. The training provides participants with relevant hands-on experience and cutting-edge knowledge on innovative solutions in earth observation technologies and apply this to assess measures for increasing water efficiency in agriculture, increase production and achieve water and climate-smart agriculture.

The training programme will consist of two e-learning training periods, that are separated by a 3-week period of regular on-distance support. The main e-learning training will take place over a 6-week period and is structured around 3 training modules that are divided into several training sessions. These training sessions are comprised of plenary video conferences and include assignments that can be worked on pairwise of individually. Attendance and progress are monitored through the FutureWater Moodle School. Each training module is tailored around different tools for gaining insight into salinity issues, improving salinity control, and enhancing agricultural production in Iraq:

  1. Geospatial mapping of climatic variables, soil salinity and irrigated areas using remote sensing and cloud computing.
  2. Soil-water-plant modeling to determine optimal irrigation water allocations to control water tables and soil salinity.
  3. Crop water productivity options to achieve real water savings in irrigated agriculture.

It is expected that the obtained knowledge and capacity in better mitigating soil and water salinization problems will be embedded into the organization(s) of the participants. This will contribute to a further increase in the agricultural productivity and food security in Iraq.

The goal of the Asian Development Bank project ‘Renewable Energy for Climate Resilience’ in Bhutan is to diversify Bhutan’s energy portfolio. Bhutan’s power sector almost exclusively relies on hydropower generation. Hydropower, however, is vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters caused by climate change. The first deployment of non-hydro renewables at utility scale in Bhutan will be the first step to diversify the power generation portfolio, increase the resilience against severe weather events such as droughts, and complement the hydropower generation profile during the dry season. Other renewable energy resources such as solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind can complement hydropower in forming a more diversified electricity generation portfolio, which is, in healthy mix, resilient to changes in seasonal weather patterns and weather extremes that can adversely affect power supply.

Within this project ADB develops two solar and one wind plant. FutureWater has undertaken a Climate Risk and Adaptation assessment (CRA) for these power plants, with a two-fold objective:

  1. Validate the underlying rationale for diversification of Bhutan’s energy generation portfolio. The rationale is that more unreliable flows under climate change adversely affect the hydropower generation, in particular in the low flow season outside the monsoon season. This are the seasons with high potential for solar and wind energy, under the current climate conditions. The diversification of Bhutan’s energy generation portfolio is considered as type 2 adaptation, related to system change and resilience building in the climate change context.
  2. Assess the vulnerability of the project components to future climate change and recommend adaptation options for climate-proofing of the design. This is considered as type 1 adaptation, related to climate proofing.

The rationale for diversification is related to the expectation that climate change impacts on the cryosphere and hydrology in Bhutan will lead to less reliable flows, in particular outside the monsoon season. This will make hydropower a less reliable source of energy, which may not be sufficient during the dry season. During these periods outside the monsoon season, the climate in Bhutan is characterized by clear skies and daily patterns of wind. This intuitively makes solar and wind suitable energy sources to complement hydropower.

The CRA concludes that this rationale holds when validated with future scenarios of climate change and hydrological changes. These project more erratic flows, meaning on one hand more extremes on the high end (floods), in itself posing risks for hydropower infrastructure, but also through increasing sediment loads and risks of exposure to landslides and glacier lake outburst floods. On the other hand, a small increase in frequency and length of hydrological droughts is projected. Furthermore, projections of wind speed and incoming solar radiation indicate more or less stable conditions compared to the present day climate, further substantiating the rationale for portfolio diversification.

For adaptation and climate proofing the main recommendation is to verify that the proposed drainage systems at the sites are sized for extreme flows that are 20-30% larger in magnitude than current extremes. This is valid across return periods. The second high priority recommendation is to design foundations of solar, wind, and transmission infrastructure to withstand increased erosion rates and substantially increased risk of landslides in landslide prone areas. A third recommendation is to take into account lower production for solar panels at increased frequency of heat stress, as well as in the sizing of capacity of transmission infrastructure, which may have reduced capacity during periods of high heat stress.

In 2017, AFD approved to finance the Water Resources Management and Agro-ecological Transition for Cambodia “WAT4CAM” Program Phase 1. This program will contribute to reduce poverty, develop the economy and reduce the vulnerability of rural populations to climate change by implementing a hydro-agricultural infrastructures rehabilitation program through an integrated approach, targeting the whole chain of water resources management, water services and agricultural production.

The strategy is to achieve intensification of cropping, modernization and climate smart practices to provide farmers with secure access to water. This is a challenging objective and a good understanding of the hydraulics of water flows in dry and wet season is needed. A consortium led by FutureWater was hired to perform WAT4CAM subcomponent 3.1, which concentrates on providing this understanding of both flood and dry season flows, demands and balance in the Preks intended for rehabilitation.

The initial stages of the project include the identification of current data, models and previous work, as well as a field survey with stakeholders. This information will be used to create an accurate and reliable modelling ensemble that makes maximum use of existing capacity in Cambodia. In addition, the consortium will use satellite-derived data products to (i) provide input to the simulation models, and (ii) calibrate and validate model results. Various sources of satellite imagery will be explored to map floods and irrigation practices, to implement an integrated “space hydrology” approach.

The modelling and knowledge generation from this study must support the other WAT4CAM components for the successful implementation of the Prek irrigation system improvements. The modelling itself is thus not the ultimate purpose, but rather the understanding and knowledge imparted to MoWRAM and the other components of the WAT4CAM program.

FutureWater’s role in the project is the overall project coordination and administration, as well as the implementation of satellite remote sensing and climate change analyses in support of the modelling components.

FutureWater, in collaboration with TUDelft and the TWIGA project, has participated in the Precipitation and Urban Hydrology session of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) conference which is held from 4-8 May. In response the ongoing coronavirus pandemic the EGU has gone completely virtual and hosted the EGU2020: Sharing Geoscience Online. This event will offer all geoscientists opportunities to share their research and stimulate scientific discourse during these unprecedented times.  During the session the added value of flying sensors (drones or UAVs) for urban hydrology and flood mapping was highlighted: it is a very effective means to map riverbeds and flood extent accurately across a wide area, even while the flood is happening or shortly thereafter. Flood mapping information is also very valuable in a long-term context, for drainage infrastructure planning and management.

The promises and challenges of deploying flying sensors for the purpose of urban hydrological modelling and flood mapping were discussed. This was illustrated a case-study in Kumasi, the second biggest and fastest growing city in Ghana, where urban flooding has become more frequent due to changes in the climate and have a more negative impact due to rapid urbanization and population growth. Not only are the natural flood plains increasingly being used for anthropogenic purposes, the increased population growth also brings along more solid (plastic) waste on the streets and into the riverbeds and riverways. This creates blockages in drains and riverways, which reduces its drainage capacity and adds to the flooding problems. Flying sensors were used to collect elevation information (DEM), riverbed dimensions and land-use. This information was used to construct a hydrological model to predict river flows and flooding.

Example applications of UAV imagery for flood mapping
Example applications of UAV imagery for flood mapping presented at the EGU.

Myanmar is a country with huge water and agriculture-related challenges. However, ground data on e.g. river flows, rainfall and crop growth are only very sparsely available. This training supported by Nuffic aimed to build capacity across the water sector in Myanmar in overcoming these limitations by using Google Earth Engine, a state-of-the art tool for accessing and processing a wealth of geographical datasets. Participants from academia, higher education, and govenment agencies, attended two training sessions hosted by YTU (the main requesting organization) and implemented by FutureWater and HKV. During the intermediate period, remote support was offered to the participants via Skype, email and the dedicated Facebook page. Results of the individual assignments, which were formulated by the participants based on their personal objectives, were presented in a final symposium.

Higher educational staff was trained to achieve sustainable impact by implementing Google Earth Engine in their curricula and train a new generation of modern and well-equipped water professionals. Public sector representatives participated to obtain skills that can be directly and sustainably implemented in their respective organizations, to benefit effective and equitable water management.

The North–South Corridor serves as the main transport artery for the region, which spans quite diverse and spectacular terrains from the historic capital of Georgia, Mtskheta, up north to Stepantsminda in the Great Caucasus mountain range. The road experiences heavy traffic and is unsafe due to a design that is inadequate for the challenging geographical and climatic conditions, particularly in winter. The area is prone to avalanche, landslide, and snow load risks, which cause frequent and extended closures of the road. The two-lane highway provides a low standard alignment and is characterized by substandard open tunnels and avalanche galleries, in which modern trucks cannot pass simultaneously. An upgrade of the existing road alignment with improved geometry and avalanche galleries was considered but deemed inappropriate as it would not address the core climate-related risks.

Recognizing these challenges, the government has therefore requested ADB’s and EBRD’s assistance to improve the North–South Corridor. The climate-resilient project road will allow more traffic to travel on it safely and will remain fully operational all year. A detailed Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (CRVA) report has been developed for the project road. The projected increase in extreme precipitation events is considered as the most important climate risk for the project road. This not only leads to higher extreme discharges, but can also lead to more frequent landslides, mudflows, and avalanches. The climate model analysis yields following conclusions for the project area:

  • Temperature increases by about 2 °C (RCP4.5) to 2.7 °C (RCP8.5) are to be expected
  • Minimum and maximum temperature are likely to change inconsistently, with maximum air temperatures increasing more than minimum air temperatures. This implies a larger diurnal temperature range for the future
  • Extremes related to temperatures (e.g. warm spells, extremely warm days) are likely to increase in frequency and intensity
  • Precipitation totals are likely to stay reasonable constant
  • Precipitation extremes are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. Maximum 1-day precipitation volumes with return periods of 25, 50 and 100 years are expected to increase by about 10% to 20%.

Stress tests were carried out by the project road design consultant team using +10% and +20% increased precipitation input for return periods used in the engineering design. These tests revealed that bridges have sufficient capacity in the current design to cope with higher discharge levels in the future, although it would be prudent to check the bridge substructure designs for higher flow velocities and the possibility of increased debris content in the flow. The tests indicated that a small proportion of the transversal and longitudinal drainage systems might have insufficient capacity to cope with the increased precipitation extremes. These should be identified, and their dimensions increased appropriately.

Due to its geographic location, Georgia’s role as a major transit country is significant. Transport of goods into and through Georgia has increased over the past 10-15 years. Almost two-thirds of goods in Georgia are transported by road but the roads are poorly equipped to cope with the volume of traffic and the proportion of heavy vehicles, and factors such as insufficient dual carriageways, routing through inhabited areas and inadequate maintenance and repair, hinder throughputs and increase transit times. The government of Georgia has therefore launched a program to upgrade the major roads of the country, including part of the East-West (E60) Highway. This climate risk and vulnerability assessment (CRVA) has examined the proposed components for section Shorapani-Argveta (F4) of the East-West Highway Road Project. The climate model analysis yields following conclusions:

  • Temperature increases by about 2.1 °C (RCP4.5) to 2.9 °C (RCP8.5) are to be expected
  • Minimum and maximum temperature are likely to change inconsistently, with maximum air temperatures increasing more than minimum air temperatures. This implies a larger diurnal temperature range for the future
  • Extremes related to temperatures (e.g. warm spells, extremely warm days) are likely to increase in frequency and intensity
  • Precipitation totals are likely to stay reasonable constant
  • Precipitation extremes are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. Maximum 1-day precipitation volumes with return periods of 25, 50 and 100 years are expected to increase by about 10% to 20%.

The increase in extreme precipitation events is considered as the most important climate risk for the project road. This may lead to higher extreme discharges that exceed the systems’ design capacity and cause flooding or inundation of road infrastructure. More extreme precipitation events can also lead to increased slope instability alongside the project road, causing more frequent and more powerful landslides, rockfalls and/or avalanches. In addition, the projected increase in diurnal temperature variability may lead to an increase in freeze–thaw conditions. This may result in deterioration of road pavement integrity, resulting in more frequent maintenance requirements. It can also further increase the risk of slope instability, making any stretch of road close to steep terrain more vulnerable to such mass movement phenomena.

According to the design team, the structures at risk of flooding (e.g. bridges, road sections) are sufficiently dimensioned to cope with return levels 10-20% higher than used in the original design calculations, which can be reasonably assumed. Retaining walls and mass movement protection structures are in place. The performance and sustainability of the pavement structure and structural joints may be adversely affected by the increase in the diurnal temperature range. To mitigate this risk, it advised to use road pavement with highest capability.

ADB is providing a technical assistance grant to the government of Tajikistan (the government) for the preparation of the CAREC corridors 2, 3, and 5 (Obigarm–Nurobod) Road Project. The project road, about 72 km long, will replace a section of the existing M41 highway that will be inundated due to the construction of the Rogun Hydropower (HPP) project. The project road passes through mountainous terrain and includes 3 tunnels of total length about 6 km, several substantial bridges, and a high level 700 m long bridge over the future hydropower reservoir. The bypass road must be completed and opened to traffic by latest November 2023, the date by which the rising water in the HPP reservoir will have inundated several critical sections of the M41 highway. No other part of Tajikistan’s national highway network can provide for this traffic, and the only alternative route would represent a deviation of about 500 km.

The executing agency for implementing the project is the Ministry of Transport (MOT), represented by its Project Implementation Unit for Roads Rehabilitation (PIURR). The detailed design of the road has been completed by a national design consultant appointed by Tajikitan’s Ministry of Transport (MOT). This climate risk and vulnerability assessment (CRVA) has examined the proposed components for CAREC corridors 2, 3, and 5. A detailed climate risk assessment was conducted for the project road for the period to 2050 to ensure the design specifications are adequate for future climatic conditions. The climate model analysis yields following conclusions:

  • Temperature increases by about 2.4 °C (RCP4.5) to 3.1 °C (RCP8.5) are to be expected.
  • Minimum and maximum temperature are likely to change inconsistently, with maximum air temperatures increasing more than minimum air temperatures.
  • Extremes related to temperatures (e.g. warm spells, extremely warm days) are likely to increase in frequency and intensity.
  • Precipitation totals are likely to increase slightly but a large spread in precipitation projections has to be noted.
  • Precipitation extremes are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. For example, maximum 1-day precipitation volumes with return periods of 50 and 100 years are expected to increase by about 20% according to the 75th percentile values in the distribution of change projections of the entire climate model ensemble.

The increase in extreme precipitation events is considered as the most important climate risk for the project road. This not only leads to higher extreme discharge events but can also lead to more frequent and more powerful mudflows, landslides, and/or avalanches. The increase in temperature can pose additional loadings from thermal expansion to bridge joints and bearings as well as the road pavement asphalt, but it is unlikely that these would be significant.

The project design consultant team recalculated the expected flow characteristics for bridge sections for 1:100 years discharge events using a foreseen 20% increase in daily maximum precipitation. The recalculations reveal that bridges have sufficient capacity in the current design to cope with higher discharge levels in the future, although it would be prudent to check the bridge substructure designs to withstand higher flow velocities and increased debris content in the flow. Heavier scour protection works may be required if structural deterioration of bridge components is observed. The project design consultant team similarly recalculated the expected flow characteristics for culvert and roadside drains, but now for 1:50 years discharge events considering a 20% precipitation increase. The recalculations reveal that the drainage capacity of the culverts is well in excess of foreseen increases in flow, whether it be precipitation, mudflow, or avalanche.