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Developments Delft3D software

Ice modelling with Delft3D

With the changing climate and the consequential increase of human activities in Arctic, sub-Arctic and mid-latitude regions, there is an increasing demand for accurate ice modelling capabilities. Accurate predictions of ice thicknesses, ice loads, ice flows or other ice characteristics are crucial for:

  • planning of safe operations in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions
  • design of breakwaters, sluices, artificial islands, offshore wind farms, subsea pipelines, platforms, etc. in ice-covered waters
  • preparing the Dutch for their national winter-hype: skating on lakes and canals!

Recently, the Delft3D-FLOW temperature module has been extended with an ice module to allow for the prediction of growth and melt of ice on the basis of time-varying meteorological input (air temperature, relative humidity and wind). The animation on the right shows the results of an ice simulation in the Dutch IJssel Lake for the relatively severe winter of 1996-1997, using meteorological input from the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI).

We envisage that the ice module will be incorporated in the open source version of Delft3D-FLOW, which is presently not yet the case. Main focus will be on the growth/melt and transport of ice in lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal seas. By linking an ice module with other Delft3D modules, it will also be possible to study aspects like seabed scour, erosion of permafrost coasts, oil spills or water quality in temporarily or partly ice-covered waters.

In order to make these developments possible, the Deltares Ice-Team invites Delft3D Community Members to contribute to the joint development of an ice module in Delft3D-FLOW, or to couple an existing ice module with Delft3D-FLOW. If you are interested to participate, please send an email to Erik de Goede ( or Reimer de Graaff (