Hydrodynamic modelling with Delft3D

Course offered as remote online course in November/December 2020!

Coursed offered as joint international course, hosted by GRACE (Graduate School for Climate and Environment) from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, in cooperation with PPGERHA (Graduate Program on Water Resources and Environmental Engineering), PPGEA (Graduate Program of Environmental Engineering) from the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), Curitiba, Brazil, and Environmental Physics course, from the University Koblenz-Landau (Germany).

Inscription should be done at the secretariats of each program respectively:  PPGERHA (ERHA755 –Tópicos especiais em engenharia de recursos hídricos e ambiental: Hydrodynamic Modelling with Delft3D);  PPGEA (EAMB7039 – Tópicos especiais em engenharia ambiental III: Hydrodynamic Modelling with Delft3D)

3 credits, 45h

Coursed offered completely in english and online.

Lecturer: Tobias Bleninger (contact)
Assistants: Camila Goulart, Rafael Bueno, Julio Werner (contact details provided in teaching platform)
Lecture hours: Tuesdays and Fridays from 09:30 – 12:30 (Brazilian Time, Brasilia), 13:30 – 16:30 (German time)
Office hours: usually 8:00 – 17:00 (Brazilian Time, Brasilia), 12:00 – 21:00 (German time)


Due to the COVID-19 crisis, and due to the international format of the course, all activities will be offered remotely, without any physical meeting.

Technical requirements are thus listed as follows:
– Internet connection
– Up to date PC or notebook with Windows Operational System (the course only provides compiled software executables for Windows)
– Webcam and headphone for videoconferencing

The course will be offered within the Platform Microsoft TEAMs, where files will be provided and shared, and chats, conferencing and scheduling will be handled.

Context / Background

Hydrodynamic modelling is an essential method to study scenarios for hydro-environmental problems, such as pollutant or cooling water discharges, sediment transport, lake eutrophication, river training, etc. Delft3D is a world leading 3D modeling suite to investigate hydrodynamics, sediment transport and morphology and water quality for fluvial, estuarine and coastal environments. Since 2011, the Delft3D flow (FLOW), morphology (MOR) and waves (WAVE) modules are available in open source. The hydrodynamic module Delft3D-FLOW is a multidimensional hydrodynamic simulation program that calculates non-steady flow and transport phenomena resulting from tidal and meteorological forcing. The primary purpose of the computational model Delft3D-FLOW is to solve various one-, two- and three-dimensional, time-dependent, non-linear partial differential equations related to hydrostatic free-surface flow problems on a structured orthogonal grid. The equations are formulated in orthogonal curvilinear co-ordinates on a plane or in spherical coordinates on the globe. The hydrodynamic module is based on the shallow water equations. The equations are solved with a robust and highly accurate solution procedure.

Some supported features are:
• Propagation of long waves (barotropic flow);
• Density gradients due to a non-uniform temperature and salinity concentration distribution (density driven flows);
• Transport of dissolved material and pollutants;
• Transport of sediments, including erosion, sedimentation and bed load transport;
• Many options for boundary conditions, such as water level, velocity and discharge boundaries
• Simulation of drying and flooding of inter-tidal flats;
• Turbulence modelling to account for the vertical turbulent viscosity and diffusivity;
• Online visualization of model parameters enabling the production of animations.

Obs.: The course uses the structured grid version of Delft3D, and does not cover the flexible mesh version!


Review of governing equations of Fluid Mechanics for environmental systems. Revision of numerical methods and stability, as well as data handling. Introduction into grid generation. Introduction on bathymetry interpolation. Modelling hydrodynamics and density effects. Post processing. Introduction to pre-processing tools for universal model setups for coastal waters. Revision of governing processes of sediment transport and water quality modeling. Applications for coastal waters, rivers and lakes.


Create the ability to plan, setup, and execute 2 and 3D hydrodynamic simulations with Delft3D, and using post-processing features.

Recommended pre-requisites: Fluid Mechanics, Hydraulics, Mathematics.


Before the course: Please register for the free Open-Source Licence at: https://oss.deltares.nl/web/delft3d/source-code some weeks before the course. Further instructions on installation will be provided throughout the course. 

No. Day Date Topic
1 Tuesday 03/11/2020 Introduction. Revision of governing equations and numerical methods. Introduction and installation of Delft3D
2 Homework Check installation and read manuals
3 Friday 06/11/2020 Technical description of Delft3D. Hands-on: Grid generation and 2D Flow simulation
4 Tuesday 09/11/2020 Hands-on: Post processing with Quickplot and Bathymetry interpolation. 2D/3D simulation of coastal hydrodynamics with discharges. Including salinity effects and winds.
5 Homework  – Refine grids and improve simulations. Dashboard installation and testing.
6 Friday 13/11/2020 Pre-processing and field data handling. Hands-on: Delft3D dashboard and project region definitions.
7 Tuesday 17/11/2020 3D modeling: lake/reservoir. Temperature stratification and 3D flow visualization. Restart file and initial conditions.
8 Homework  – Dashboard and data provision for projects
9 Friday 20/11/2020 River flow example
10 Tuesday 24/11/2020 Revision of sediment tranport and manual and tutorial.
11 Homework Tutorial: Simulation with sediment transport in rivers
12 Friday 27/11/2020 Simulation with sediment transport in rivers. Introduction to Water Quality modeling.
13 Tuesday 01/12/2020 Water quality simulations
14 Homework  – Group interaction
15 Friday 04/12/2020 Wrap-up and examples and group work preps
Tuesday 08/11/2020  no class, preparation of group study model and report
Friday 11/12/2020  no class, preparation of group study model and report
16 Tuesday 15/12/2020 Presentation of group study results


The course certificate requires:

  • One group work (mixed international group) for a specific flow simulation project (data provided by course or own data can be used too). The work should be summarized in an online document and presentation (e.g. using Sway or any other platform for online reporting and presentation), including the following items:
    • site description
    • available data and boundary conditions
    • model description and setup
    • model simulations for at least 4 scenarios (high and low resolution grid with 2 different boundary conditions or forcings)
    • post-processing (figures, graphs, animations, comparison of scenarios)
    • being summarized in a project report, and presented during the last lecture.
  • Grading as follows
  • 70%: Online report/presentation (one grade per group)
  • 10%: Presentation (individual grade)
  • 20%: Oral examination (replying questions after presentations, individual grade)
  • Minimum grade to pass is 70%. Otherwise, and if attendance ok -> certificate of attendance only
  • Participation: students should participate at least 75% of the lectures and participate the reporting, the presentation and discussion to receive a course certificate

References and additional information

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