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A New Coastal Flood Forecasting System for the Netherlands

ir. S. (Simone) De Kleermaeker, dr. ir. M. (Martin) Verlaan, ing. J. (Jan) Kroos, ir. F. (Firmijn) Zijl

The North Sea is one of the busiest seas in the world with dense ship

traffic, fisheries, wind farming, recreation and many other

activities. All these activities depend on the ‘marine weather’.

Accurate forecasts of waves, currents and sea level are crucial for

operational management and for issuing warnings during extreme events.

The operational forecasting system in theNetherlandshas been

operational since the 90’s.


In the last few years, a new forecasting system has been developed.

This involved both advanced model development as well as the set-up of

an operational forecasting shell based on the FEWS framework.


A new operational flood forecasting model for the Northwest European

shelf has been developed (DCSMv6). This model computes water level and

flow forecasts, based on meteorological forecasts. The short term

forecasts are further improved with data-assimilation. The wave

forecast are computed by theSWAN-NorthSeawave model, based on

meteorological forecasts and the ouput of the DCSMv6 model.


FEWS North Sea is used to collect all necessary data and coordinate

computations. Automated runs are scheduled 4 times a day, following

the release of new meteorological forecasts from KNMI. Manual runs can

be scheduled when required. The system automatically synchronizes

between multiple forecasters located in different offices or through

mobile telecommunication. Model output can be inspected and compared

with observations, to assist forecasters to decide on appropriate

warning levels. The system is a major step forward both in accuracy of

the model forecasts and for forecasters to cooperate between multiple

offices. In daily operations, the system is used for water management

of Dutch coastal waters, e.g. to ensure maritime safety on busy

shipping routes towards the large seaportofRotterdam. During storm

surges the forecasts will be used to issue warnings, based on which

measures can be taken to prevent flooding.