Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) have developed a complex hydrological model for forecasting dry spells lasting several weeks with high spatial resolution. These predictions make it possible, for example, to operate hydropower plants more profitably.
Changing climatic conditions pose extra challenges for hydropower plant operators. As part of the National Research Programme “Energy Turnaround” (NRP 70), researchers at WSL, MeteoSwiss and ETH Zurich have now developed a complex hydrological model that enables spatially detailed forecasts of persistent dry spells using real-time data. This allows reliable predictions of water scarcity over a period of up to three weeks.
Massimiliano Zappa of WSL, who heads the project, explains the advantage of such forecasts: “With climate change, dry spells will become more frequent and intensive, and will last longer.”
Detecting these periods reliably is important for many reasons: long-range drought forecasts benefit agriculture and inland waterway transport; authorities could encourage people to conserve water at an early stage, or could save fish from rivers where water is low or too warm.
This information is particularly useful for operators of reservoir power stations. “But up to now, forecasts have generally not been made over such long periods because of the high complexity and enormous amounts of data”, says Zappa.
Drought is easier to predict than precipitation, which can only be reliably forecasted up to five days at most. But dry spells are complex phenomena that depend on numerous climatic processes and regional factors such as intensity of water use, soil storage properties, expected soil moisture, water runoff and underground water reservoirs. Previously, Switzerland had no system capable of monitoring these local variables efficiently.
Making optimal use of available water
Long-range forecasts of inflow and outflow in the catchment areas of hydropower stations can be combined with predictions of price developments on the energy market to optimise operation and profitability. Up to now, hydropower operators had to rely on simple statistics such as multi-year averages of precipitation and runoff. The new procedure, however, allows them to estimate the water availability of each day of the following month.
“Reservoir power stations can generate up to 4 per cent higher earnings by making optimal use of available water on the basis of long-range forecasts. This is very important for the hydropower industry, which has come under pressure”, says Frédéric Jordan, CEO of Hydrique Ingéniers, the industrial partner responsible for the economic calculations.
It is in society’s interest that hydropower plants be able to predict the availability of water and convert the stored water into electricity when market demand is high. Only when hydropower plants can operate profitably even under changing climatic conditions will it be possible to finance modernisation and expansion, as envisaged by the Energy Strategy 2050, from their own resources.
The National Research Programmes “Energy Turnaround” and “Managing Energy Consumption”
The Swiss National Science Foundation’s National Research Programmes “Energy Turnaround” (NRP 70) and “Managing Energy Consumption” (NRP 71) are investigating the scientific and technological as well as socioeconomic aspects of the successful implementation of the Energy Turnaround.
Until the end of 2018, more than 300 researchers in more than 100 research projects will be working on substantially reducing energy consumption, developing new technologies and evaluating social prerequisites for their implementation in the next 10 to 30 years.
NFP 70 and NFP 71 are running concurrently. Owing to their many overlapping areas of interest, the two programmes are closely coordinated.
Further information on the individual research projects and the organisation of the National Research Programmes is available at www.nrp70.ch and www.nrp71.ch
Dr Massimiliano Zappa, WSL
Phone.: +41 44 739 24 33
Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
First-ever visualizations of electrical gating effects on electronic structure
18.07.2019 | University of Warwick
New safer, inexpensive way to propel small satellites
16.07.2019 | Purdue University
Adjusting the thermal conductivity of materials is one of the challenges nanoscience is currently facing. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Spain, researchers from the University of Basel have shown that the atomic vibrations that determine heat generation in nanowires can be controlled through the arrangement of atoms alone. The scientists will publish the results shortly in the journal Nano Letters.
In the electronics and computer industry, components are becoming ever smaller and more powerful. However, there are problems with the heat generation. It is...
Scientists have visualised the electronic structure in a microelectronic device for the first time, opening up opportunities for finely-tuned high performance electronic devices.
Physicists from the University of Warwick and the University of Washington have developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in...
Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.
Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...
For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.
Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...
An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".
The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...
24.06.2019 | Event News
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.07.2019 | Earth Sciences