Digital Twins Of Civil StRucturEs And Protection Systems In A ClimAte Change PerspecTive (REACT)

In the Focus Group Digital Twins of Civil StRucturEs and Protection Systems in a ClimAte Change PerspecTive (REACT), Hans Fischer Fellow Prof. Antonia Larese (University of Padova) collaborates with her host Prof. Kai-Uwe Bletzinger (Chair of Structural Analysis, TUM), Veronica Singer and Andino Boerst (both Chair of Structural Analysis).

In the last decades we have observed a rapid growth of extreme hydrological events, such as floods and rock/debris or mud flows affecting more and more frequently our lives. Existing scenario predictions are confirming that this tendency will keep worsening in the near future. According to the EU solidarity fund, the economic consequences of floods and other hydrological hazards are even larger than that of earthquakes, inducing bigger overall damages. Floods impact, only in Europe, is estimated to cost around 6 billion Euros per year, affecting more than 250 thousand people per year.

In the last years, an important action has been carried out to collect and share as much information and data as possible on past events, as well as to create a hydrological forecast and monitoring system independent of administrative and political boundaries such as the GloFAS.

Nevertheless, little attention has been devoted to the analysis of our infrastructures in this new climate change scenario.

Our bridges, levees, dams, check dams and flood control structures, have mostly been conceived based on design criteria that did not consider the actual frequency and intensity of extreme hydrological occurrences.

We need to give an answer to 2 important questions:

  1. Are we aware of the real conditions of an operating structure?
  2. How should we update the design criteria for the new structures to consider the actual and future forcing induced by a fluctuating climate?


The detailed physical description of these hydraulic systems must consider the mutual interaction between the fluid phase and the deformable boundary of the structures. Complex 3-dimensional high fidelity numerical models (full order models -FOMs) need to be defined to solve fluid-structure and fluid-soil problems able to simulate accurately the interaction between the flow field (e.g., due to floods, intense sediment transport and debris flows or rapid rock movements), and/or the surrounding soil and the hydraulic or protection structure.

The numerical simulation of these coupled systems is extremely challenging and computationally demanding, thus limiting their practical application to system monitoring. The goal of the project is the creation of a DIGITAL TWIN for hydraulic and protection structures under hydrological hazards such as floods and debris flows. The digital twin must be able to predict the structure response in real-time to adapt to the fast-flowing measurement data. To that purpose we will develop accurate Reduced order models (ROMs) to capture the relevant features of the real process, while guaranteeing the computational efficiency for quasi real time applications. Data assimilation will continuously correct and optimize the ROMs by the seamless flow of monitoring data during operational conditions, resulting in a PHYSICS-INFORMED MACHINE LEARNING system.

TUM-IAS-funded doctoral candidate:
Andino Boerst, Chair of Structural Analysis, TUM