Search impact stories
Video Content: 
0

Flooding simulation software to help Canadians keep their heads above water

Canada’s creeks, lakes, and rivers provide nourishment and recreation for citizens and visitors from coast to coast; however, when they flood, they can also bring significant and costly devastation to communities, like the hundreds of municipalities in Quebec and British Columbia that have been affected this spring. Each year, flooding accounts for nearly 75 percent of federal financial relief for natural disasters, so increased prevention and mitigation are crucial as weather patterns change and flood risks increase.

One Tunisian student is focusing on the Spencer Creek watershed in Dundas, Ontario (near Hamilton), in the hopes of understanding — and preventing — floods in the area and across Canada. Houssem Hmaidi is an engineering undergraduate at the University of Medjez El Bab who is spending his summer at the University of Guelph through Mitacs’ Globalink program. Under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Binns, he’s working on a 2-D modelling project that simulates real and staged flooding events in the region, using software developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Building on previous hydraulic modelling conducted by another student, Houssem’s 2-D flood inundation modelling is suitable to assess flood patterns in urbanized areas, where human habitation and development affect flood risk.

“By modelling real and simulated floods, the program helps researchers develop prevention and response plans,” Houssem explains. “We also gain insight into morphology, or how a body of water changes shape over time, and sediment transport, and how all these factors affect flooding and what we can do to prevent it. Existing research from other Canadian creeks, rivers, and watersheds also helps inform the project.”

Although Houssem was relatively new to research as an engineering student, support from Dr. Binns has helped him hit the ground running: “My professor has been so helpful and patient as I get adjusted and learn more about the project.” Houssem’s been fortunate to encounter similar kindness from the University of Guelph, residents around the city, and fellow Globalink research interns from around the world.

Houssem’s research project arose from his interest in pursuing an internship abroad. When he heard about Mitacs’ Globalink Research Internship from his university, he jumped at the chance to apply. “I wanted to do an internship abroad and was especially interested in going to Canada because I’m a big fan of Canada’s political landscape,” he says. “Now I’m preparing for my English proficiency certificate and hoping to return here for graduate studies. I’m living the dream.” 


Mitacs would like to thank the Government of Canada, along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, and the Government of Quebec for their support of the Globalink Research Internship program. In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with the following international partners to support Globalink: Universities Australia; the China Scholarship Council; Campus France; the German Academic Exchange Service; Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico; Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education; and Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord.