The 2011 Prestigious Dugald Clerk Lecture in Civil Engineering

Professor Alistair Borthwick (of the Department of Engineering Science) gave this year’s prestigious Dugald Clerk Lecture at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in London. The lecture was titled "Water and Sediment, Waves and Floods", and focused on the mechanics of water and sediment mixtures, the huge range of spatial and temporal scales involved in river and coastal morphodynamics, extreme ocean waves, and coastal and river inundation.

Professor Alistair BorthwickApproximately 100 representatives from industry, government, public bodies and academia (including students) attended the Lecture, and more than 90 people also viewed it online. The ‘prestige dinner’ after the Lecture gave delegates the opportunity to continue the debate on issues raised by Professor Borthwick.

Professor Borthwick’s wide-ranging presentation considered the environmental and socio-economic threats posed by floods, droughts, and other man-made and natural phenomena. He used water and sediment data to infer man-made and climate influences on the Yellow River in China. Professor Borthwick drew attention to the connection between last year’s La Niña anomoly and recent flood events worldwide, including those in China, Pakistan, Australia, Brazil, and Sri Lanka. He also focused on recent advances in the simulation of tsunami and extreme storm-induced waves.

In his presentation Professor Borthwick said: “Perhaps in the spirit of Leonardo da Vinci ‘mechanics is the paradise of the mathematical sciences’, which I think or rather hope would be echoed by Sir Dugald Clerk who helped to establish the modern world through his great achievements in thermo-dynamics.

About the Dugald Clerk Lecture

The Dugald Clerk Lecture was instituted in 1938 following a bequest made to the ICE by Sir Dugald Clerk (1854-1932), Vice-President. Sir Dugald Clerk invented the Clerk two-cycle engine and achieved a world-wide reputation for his investigations in connection with the gas engine. The Lecture is given on subjects connected with mechanical engineering, usually water or coastal structures.

About ICE

ICE represents 80,000 qualified and student civil engineers in the UK and across the globe and is the leading source of information on civil engineering and infrastructure issues such as transport policy, sustainable development, flood risk management, energy, waste and water supply. With the world's most prominent engineering professionals amongst its membership, ICE has long worked with government and industry to promote the profession and help ensure infrastructure is high on the agenda of policy-makers and politicians alike.

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