If a water level of 3.00 metres above NAP is anticipated for Rotterdam the Storm Surge Barrier in the New Waterway has to be closed. In these circumstances the Storm Surge Barrier computer - the Command and Support System (Dutch acronym BOS) instructs the Control System (BES) to shut the barrier. The BES implements the BOS's commands.
In the event of a storm tide, the docks are filled with water, so that the hollow gates start to float and can be turned into the New Waterway. Once the gates meet, the cavities are filled with water and the gates sink to the bottom, thus sealing off the 360 metre-wide opening. After the high water has passed the gates are pumped out and the structure begins to float again. Once it is certain that the next high water will not be another abnormally high one, the two gates are returned to their docks.
When the New Waterway is sealed off it is no longer possible for shipping to pass. The storm-surge barrier will only be closed in extremely bad weather – in probability once every ten years. A test closure will probably be conducted once a year in order to check the equipment. This will be done when there is little shipping. With the rise in sea levels the storm-surge barrier will need to close more frequently in 50 years time, namely once every five years.
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The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.
Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".
Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.
Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights.
In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states.
Text by Steve Smith.