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Introduction Decision Support
System (DSS)

River Modelling

This page provide some additional information about the main features of the interface, as well as some practical examples of its application. It's also mentioned the technological basis on which this solution is based.

The River Modelling application uses mathematical models of the rivers network to simulate river water discharge flows and water levels (hydrodynamics) and the transport of substances or properties that are used as water quality indicators. This interface allows either setting up the data needed to define new simulations and also to view and analyze the simulation's final results. For each river channel you can view their results on the longitudinal profile and plan view. For both cases, you can select the desired water line, the simulation instant time and the pollutant substance.


Figure 1

Figure 1 - The River Modelling application.

1 - Section of the interface for the graphic representation of the water line longitudinal profile.
2 - Section of the interface for the graphic representation of the water line plan view.
3 - Toolbar: table results.
4 - Toolbar: chart results.
5 - Toolbar: visualization of a simple animation of the longitudinal profile over the time.
6 - Toolbar: river profile with zoom functionalities (for the selected instant time).
7 - Toolbar: cross sections.
8 - Toolbar: automatic report about the current simulation.
9 - Toolbar: definition of the simulation parameters, before proceeding with the model execution.
10- Toolbar: information about the current simulation.
11- Graphic representation of the water line longitudinal profile.
12- Water level in the upstream node, for the selected instant time.
13- Water level in the downstream node, for the selected instant time.
14- Representation of the water line on the plan view, with information about its nodes and reachs.
15- Description about the water line.
16- Buttons to enable/disable the ortophotomaps and administrative boundaries viewing.
17- Button to display the plan view in a new window, with more resolution.
18- Button to display information about the water line on the G.I.S..
19- Selection of the water quality parameter (to display on the plan view).
20- Water line selection.
21- Instant time selection.
22- Button for remote execution of the model (after setting the desired simulation parameters).


When the user accesses to the interface he has access to the results of the last performed simulation. Such results are available under different formats: graphical representations of the longitudinal profile and plan view, tables and charts with all the estimated values, small graphical animations of the water level, automatic reports, etc.

The interface comprises 2 main frames. On the left side, the "PROFILE" section displays a graphical representation of the longitudinal profile of the selected water line (Figure 2) and also provides some buttons (on the toolbar) that allows not only to query results but also to define new simulation parameters.

Figure 2

Figure 2 - Graphical representation of the water line longitudinal profile (River Modelling).

In the graphical representation of the longitudinal profile it's possible to identify the terrain relief and the corresponding water level along the river. There're also some graphical representations of hydraulic structures such as floodgates and weirs and terrain characteristics such as tunnels and siphons (Figure 3). The water level along the course (such as the values provided at the upstream and downstream boundary nodes) are related to the simulation instant time selected in listbox which lies in the lower right corner of the "Profile" frame.

Figure 3

Figure 3 - Some of the graphical objects represented along the longitudinal profile of the water line (River Modelling).

The amount of water is represented with a blue color and allows to easily identify the water level in different zones of the profile. In some cases, due to the used resolution, the volume of water can hardly be seen - in this case is helpful to view the expanded profile.

By clicking on the 4th button on the Toolbar (identified by a photo camera), you have the possibility to consult the graphical representation of the longitudinal profile in an external window, with zoom features (Figure 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4 - Graphical representation of the longitudinal profile in an external window, with zoom features (River Modelling).

If the user wants to see a simple graphical animation of the longitudinal profile over the time, he can see it by clicking on the 3rd button of the toolbar (in the "Profile" frame). Then the user must click on the "Play" button (or press "I" on the keyboard) to start the animation. A graphical representation of an analog clock identifies the instant of time on each moment (Figure 5).

Figure 5

Figure 5 - A simple animation of the longitudinal profile over the time (River Modelling).

Figure 6

Figure 6 - Six frames obtained from the animation profile window (River Modelling).

It's also possible to consult all the simulation results either in table or chart format. Through the "Table" feature (accessible through the first button of the toolbar) the user has access to a complete list of all the simulation instants and the corresponding estimated values for each node and reach of the hydrodinamic and water quality model. For example, the user just needs to select the desired calculation node to know its water level, waterdepth or free board values, on each of the simulation time records (Figure 7).

Figure 7

Figure 7 - Table with hydrodinamic results (River Modelling).

If the application also calculates water quality results then some water quality information are also provided such as the estimated values for CBO5, Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature, Streptococus, Faecal Coliforms, Total Coliforms, etc. (Figure 8).

Figure 8

Figure 8 - Table with water quality results (River Modelling).

All the information provided in the table format can also be consulted on a chart, with the benefit of the user could compare, for example, the water level in 2 different locations of the river (Figure 9).

Figure 9

Figure 9 - Comparative analysis of hydrodinamic results on a chart (River Modelling).

Additional information such as reports about the current simulation (generated automatically by the interface), or graphic information about the cross-sections of the river may also be provided by the interface (Figure 10).

Figure 10

Figure 10 - Cross-sections (River Modelling).

Also in relation to the results of the simulation, the user can see the input parameters used in the execution of the current simulation through the "i" button (information), that makes available diverse information such as start, end and lenght of the simulation; date of model run; discharge points of polluting substances and their values; inflow, outflows and water levels considered at the upstream and downstream; etc..

Figure 11

Figure 11 - Information about the current simulation (River Modelling).

The right side frame of the interface (identified by "Plan View") is directly linked to the graphical display of the Profile (see Figure 1). This is because the instant time represented in the Plan View is the same as that shown in Profile (and corresponds to the selected instant time on the listbox located on the Profile frame). Besides allowing to geographically locate the reachs of the river, the plan view has as main goal allows the user to locate and see the estimated values on a given node/reach. For such, the user only needs to move the mouse cursor along the water line and by placing the mouse cursor over a particular node or reach, a small tooltip (textbox) will be displayed with information about that element. For example, it's possible to know the waterdepth value on a particular reach, for the selected instant time of the simulation (Figure 12).

Figure 12

Figure 12 - Tooltip providing information about the selected node/reach (River Modelling).

In the plan view you can identify basically three types of graphic objects: the real river axis, the simulation nodes represented by a white circle and simulation reachs represented by a blue straight segment.

In the water quality interfaces, a color map is used for coloring the reachs segments, depending on the concentration value estimated on that location (blue for low values, red for higher values). Through the small textbox provided when placing the mouse cursor over the objects it's also possible to know the concentration values of a selected pollutant substance on each reach (Figure 13).

Figure 13

Figure 13 - Water quality results on the Plan View (River Modelling).

The viewing scale on the plan view can be increased or decreased and the user can navigate and interact with the different graphical objects (see the "Technical Requirements" chapter fo this webpage). The user may also turn on/off the visualization of the orthophotomaps or administrative boundaries (Figure 14).

Figure 14

Figure 14 - Viewing the water line and the administrative boundaries (River Modelling).

Through the "Freguesias" button it's possible to turn on the display of the administrative boundaries. Thus these limits shall be visible on the plan view and its names will be displayed when the mouse cursor is located within that boundary.

The Plan View it also has an associated context menu which is accessible through the right button of the mouse. The options in this menu allows the user to change the viewing scale, restore the original view, copy the image content to the clipboard, or get information about the SVG plug-in.

At the bottom right corner of the Plan View there's an icon (identified by "+"), which allows the user to analyze the plan view content with more detail (in a larger window).


By now it was only referred how to consult simulations results. Now it will be explained how to set up and run a new simulation.

The simulation parameters can be changed in a window that is accessible through the "Simulation parameters" button (see Figure 1, item 9). This provides a new window where you can set these parameters (Figure 15).

Figure 15

Figure 15 - Setting the simulation parameters and boundary conditions (River Modelling).

On the right side of the window the user can define the discharges and water levels for the boundary nodes. It can be chosen a constant or a variable value. In case of a constant value, the user simply enter the value in the corresponding textbox (with the "Constant" option selected). In case of a variable value, the user must select the "Variable" option first, and then use the graph button to set the Variable Law. The user can consult the location of the boundary nodes by clicking on the image/map that is on the left side of the window (just below the duration of the simulation).

On the left side of the window the user can set the simulation date, the initial time and its length. Above the "Submit Values" button there are two images/buttons that allows you to define the variable law for each floodgate and set the pollutant sources and their values (if the interface supports water quality results).

Figure 16

Figure 16 - Selection of the hydraulic structures (River Modelling).

After selecting the desired hydraulic structure it's possible to define its variable law (Figure 17).

Figure 17

Figure 17 - Form for definition of the hydraulic structure variable law (River Modelling).

In this form there are buttons for update and add new records. It's important to note that it's only allowed to add new time instants that are within the range previously defined in the "Simulation Parameters" window.

Notice: In the window named "Selection of the hydraulic structure" there's a useful button (named "Reset values for all the system") that enables to reset the values defined for all the hydraulic structures, which should be used whenever the start and/or end of the simulation parameters are changed in the "Simulation Parameters" window. Thus, the variable law table for each floodgate will only contain two records: the simulation start and end time.

To set the pollutant sources, a map selection is used with its respectives forms. The pollutant sources are organized by type (WWTP, industries and dairy farms). With the same form it's possible to access to the boundary nodes and define the concentrations values (Figure 18).

Figure 18

Figure 18 - Map selection for pollutant sources (River Modelling).

After selecting a particular pollutant source, a table is shown with the constant concentration values used during the simulation period (Figure 19) or links to another form that allows you to check/edit the respective variable law.

Figure 19

Figure 19 - Table with constant concentration values set for a specific WWTP (River Modelling).

Once you had set the variable laws for the hydraulic structures and the pollutant sources concentrations/values, you must click on the "Submit values" button of the "Simulation Parameters" window (see Figure 15). Thus the window is closed and the values you set are stored on the server for posterior use in the next run of the model.

Once you have completed the above steps, you can run the model with the parameters that have been set. The order is done through the "Executar" button, at the bottom right corner of the main interface window (see Figure 1, item 22).

Notice: this operation can only be performed if the user has privileges to run the model (these privileges may be granted by the website administrator).

After the user starts the execution of the model, a message is shown with information about the simulation. The necessary time to have the results of the simulation availables depends on the simulation length that has been set by the user, as well as other input data (discharges values, hydraulic structures opening laws, pollutant sources concentrations/values, etc).


This web interface is based on a Web Server (eg, Apache), a Database Server (eg, MySQL), the PHP programming language and on SVG (a XML-based vector image format).

Apache Server MySQL PHP SVG

On the "client machine" side, the following requirements are recommended:

- Browser: Internet Explorer 6 or above (compatibility with other web browsers is currently not guaranteed).
- For Internet Explorer 9 and 10 it's recommend the use of the "Compatible view".
- Browser configuration: plug-in Adobe SVG Viewer installed.
- Browser configuration: JavaScript enabled.
- Browser configuration: pop-up blocker disabled.

The SVG plug-in (mentioned above) allows you to navigate and interact with all the SVG images present in this interface. This plug-in provides many features that allows for example, to change the viewing scale of the graphical objects or the visible area of the map. To find out more information about the use of these and other features click here.


This interface is based on information previously collected, treated and stored on the database. The information update should be performed with appropriate database management tools.


Prof. Doutor José Manuel Pereira Vieira

Prof. Doutor José Luís da Silva Pinho

Eng. José Araújo

Eng. Rui Pinho

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