In my childhood in Cologne, Germany, I experienced the Rhine flooding the old city several times. Who knows if this triggered a passion for floods, but after studying Physics and Hydrology I chose to write my master thesis on flood forecasting for a tributary of the Rhine. At that time in 1995 the integration of numerical weather predictions in operational hydrology models was state of the art. After this first introduction to the challenges of real time forecasting it has remained a focus of my professional life.
At Ludwig Consultant Engineers in Germany I specialized in hydrological modelling, supporting flood forecasting centres in Germany, Austria and France with operational forecasting models and programs. In joint projects with different research institutions, I worked on hydrological forecasts in mountainous catchments and helped coupling a large-scale water balance model with a Climate Prediction Model. A personal highlight was my participation in two international research expeditions to Antarctica focusing on snow hydrology, remote sensing and climate change impact studies.
Delft-FEWS became my main focus when I joined the Operational Water Management Team at Deltares in 2009. Besides gaining in-depth knowledge of Delft-FEWS, I had the opportunity to contribute to several international projects and to learn more about the different approaches and needs of Forecasting Centres around the world. I particularly enjoyed the exceptional cross-fertilization of ideas with my colleagues and clients on a regularly basis.
In 2012 I chose to take on the challenge of operational forecasting in a complex region, where almost all hydrological processes play an important role and are a modelling challenge. At the Swiss Hydrological Forecasting Centre of the Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN), the Swiss FEWS is one of the very first systems of its kind and has been continuously developed for more than 20 years. FOEN started using meteo ensemble forecasts in their forecasting models very early and published resulting uncertainty information from the very beginning. Since Delft-FEWS was developed exactly for such calculations, it proved to be an ideal platform for this. At FOEN we use FEWS to run more than one forecasting model for most river basins and include a number of regional models run by several federal states of Switzerland. This enables us to take into account uncertainties stemming from different hydrological modelling approaches.
As a strong supporter of community approaches, I very much enjoy improving the Delft-FEWS as well as hydrological models together with other enthusiastic users. That’s why it is a pleasure and honour to contribute to the FEWS community as a member of the CSB.