Extreme weather and chain effects

This AWS pilot study specifically aimed to gain a better understanding of the impacts of critical infrastructure failure due to extreme rainfall and large-scale flooding in the Port of Amsterdam.

Stakeholders and partners

ContactHans de Moel
AWS Institutions: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
AWS Stakeholders: Municipality of Amsterdam, Waternet and Amsterdam Harbor Authoritiy
Research team: Students, Elco Koks, Iris Manola, Rob Koeze and Camiel van Drimmelen.
Running period: 2016 to 2017
Theme: Water and climate risk
Funding: Amsterdam Water Science


For maximum usability, the pilot study was integrated in a broader project within Amsterdam which focuses on the development of a climate adaptation programme for the Port of Amsterdam. With the help of three student-assistants, several (critical) infrastructure networks have been investigated and new flood maps have been developed to improve the quantification of the vulnerability of these networks.  More specifically, reports have been written on (i) vital infrastructure networks, such as energy, gas and telecommunications, (ii) network dependencies of the cacao and oil industry, the most important industrial sectors in the port of Amsterdam and (iii) updated coastal flood maps to improve the risk assessment in the port area. 


The report on vital infrastructures provides a unique insight in the network dependencies and vulnerabilities of vital infrastructure in the port of Amsterdam. One of the main conclusions of the report is that the port area is already very resilient as it is now. The electricity and gas system, for instance, is robust and safely built. However, in the unlikely scenario of a coastal flood, some of the electricity substations may be flooded, resulting in power outages and cascading effects throughout the entire port area. Issues may arise in wastewater treatment, the supply of heat to the city center. Besides, telecommunication networks are most likely to fail when there is a power outage.

The report on the cacao and oil sectors does not only provide a clear overview of the potential cascading impacts when essential assets and storage of these sectors are flooded in the port area, but also of the resilience built into the system. For the oil sector in specific, there is large potential of substitution in production suppliers between the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

The final result of this pilot study is the development of new coastal flood maps, using the latest available digital elevation map for the port area. This has resulted in a high-detail flood map, allowing for an assessment to estimate the potential for adaptation measures. This study will specifically focus on estimates potential benefits of adaptation measures which work for both coastal flooding and extreme rainfall events. 

Published by  IBED Water

Hans de Moel & Elco Koks In collaboration with Sadaf Dostzada, Sophie van der Meer and Ruben Akkermans

10 April 2017