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Natural Hazards

Warning system

Hot topic for a hot summer: extreme weather and climate events in the ANYWHERE project – A Pan-European Platform for Multi-Hazard Early Warning and associated Impacts

Hot topic for a hot summer: extreme weather and climate events in the ANYWHERE project – A Pan-European Platform for Multi-Hazard Early Warning and associated Impacts

Henny van Lanen.

In this post, I have the pleasure to interview Dr.ir. Henny A.J. van Lanen. He is Associate Professor in the Hydrology & Quantitative Water Management Group of Wageningen University and he has been involved in several EU projects. Further, he is involved in many international groups or networks:

  • Coordinator of the European FRIEND programme (EURO-FRIEND Water, Flow Regimes from International Experimental and Network Data; cross-cutting theme UNESCO-IHP);
  • Past Global Coordinator of the FRIEND Inter-Group Coordination Committee (FIGCC) (cross-cutting theme UNESCO-IHP);
  • Coordinator of the European Drought Centre (EDC);
  • Member of the Open Panel of CHy Experts (OPACHE) of Commission of Hydrology (CHy) from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO);
  • member of the Discussion Group on Droughts of the UN-International Strategy on Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR);
  • member/chair of the Project Review Group of Global Water Partnership (WM-GWP) on Integrated Drought Management in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE-IDMP).
1. Media are talking more frequently of extreme weather and climate events: why are they so important for our society?

Extreme Weather and Climate events (W&C) cause natural hazards, and when vulnerable human and natural systems are exposed to these W&C hazards, they may lead to disasters. For instance, from 2011 to 2013, the USA faced 24 weather-related disasters that led to about 1100 fatalities, which resulted in more than $200 billion in losses. Similar experiences of weather-induced disasters and their associated losses are reported for Europe. Moreover, there seems to be a growing trend. Summer 2019 has barely begun, but temperature records are already being broken. Recent data show that the European-average temperature for June 2019 was higher than for any other June on record. Average temperatures were more than 2°C above normal and it has become the hottest June ever recorded. This led to associated dry hazards, e.g. wildfires, but also to abrupt endings, like the powerful early-July storm in northern Greece that killed six people. The apparently rising trends go hand in hand with increasing populations, assets and ecosystems’ risk.

Dry, natural hazards (drought, heatwaves, wildfires) cause severe impacts and likely will intensity in the future in multiple areas across the world (photos: Henny Van Lanen).

[Read More]

I-REACT – ‘Fight disasters with your phone’

I-REACT – ‘Fight disasters with your phone’

Technology has never been more at hand than at the time we are living. Smartphones and the many apps on the market are proof of this. As I recently discovered, there is also an app developed to learn about natural hazards and, as they claim, fight disasters! This app is called I-REACT, and it was born from a homonymous innovation project funded by the European Commission and developed by a consortium of 20 partners. Their aim?

use social media, smartphones and wearables to improve disaster management

Of course, when I found out about the project, I curiously downloaded the app and started playing around with it, trying to figure out what it does and how it works. I have to say that I haven’t had the chance of reporting a disaster yet (and hopefully I won’t have even in the future), but I can say I find it user-friendly and exciting. Let’s get a bit more into details and understand this project and the app directly from the I-REACT Team!

Hi I-REACT Team! Can you tell us about who you are and how the I-REACT idea was born?

My name is Fabrizio Dominici. I’m Head of Data Science at LINKS Foundation and coordinator of I-REACT. I-REACT is an innovation project that uses big data, social media, smartphones and wearables to improve disaster management.

The project was born in 2016, within a European Commission call for proposals for more resilient and secure societies. We joined together 20 partners that are among the top experts to create a unified system for disaster management that responds to the needs of the three main actors in a disaster situation: emergency responders, decision-makers and citizens (all of ‘us’, Ed.).

The main idea of the project is to offer each one of us the best tools to prevent and face disasters. And in this context, I-REACT, as a project, provides a big data platform that crosses over inputs from different sources: satellites, social media, weather forecasts and much more. This, joined with a Decision Support System, is a crucial companion for emergency responders and decision makers.

For citizens, we developed the I-REACT app, which empowers them against disasters.

[Read More]

InSAR Norway: the big eye on Norwegian unstable rock slopes

InSAR Norway: the big eye on Norwegian unstable rock slopes

Marie Keiding is a researcher in the Geohazard and Earth Observation team at the Geological Survey of Norway. Together with her colleague, John Dehls, who is leading the project, she works to develop and operate the new mapping service called InSAR Norway.

Before we start, let’s briefly describe what is InSAR. First, the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is a day and night operational imaging system that can be operated from satellite aircraft or ground and has high capabilities of penetrating clouds because it uses microwaves. Its ‘interferometric configuration’, Interferometric SAR or InSAR, uses two or more SAR images to generate maps of surface deformation or digital elevation models. This is made by calculating differences in the phase of the waves returning to the sensor, as a function of the satellite position and time of acquisition.

Measurements of phase variations are possible only in those pixels of the image where the signal maintains a sufficient coherence between different acquisitions. For this reason, InSAR techniques are particularly suitable to monitor relatively small deformations, in the order of millimetres to centimetres.

Hi Marie, can you tell what is InSAR Norway?

InSAR Norway is the first free and open, nationwide, [Read More]

Landslide forecasting and warning service in Norway

Today our blog will host Graziella Devoli who will tell us about the Landslide Forecasting and Warning Service currently operating in Norway by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE). Graziella is Senior Geologist at NVE and she has PhD in Environmental Geology and Geohazards obtained at the University of Oslo (UiO) where she also teaches in the Geohazards master program. At NVE she works with the organization and development of the national forecasting service and in the daily landslide hazard assessment. Her expertise in this field comes from the years spent working in Nicaragua in natural risk management and emergency planning, where she experienced the importance of adopting multi-disciplinary approaches and strengthening national and international collaboration in disaster risk reduction. Since few years she shares her experience in class organizing a serious game where, using a multi-hazard case study, students analyse roles and responsibility of different stakeholders in disaster preventive actions. The exercise is given to UiO-students and to early career scientists at EGU conference.

Hi Graziella and thank you for being with us. Would you tell us what varsom.no is?

Varsom in Norwegian means “cautious” and Varsom.no is the Norwegian national web portal where daily flood, landslides, snow avalanches warnings and ice conditions on a regional scale are published and represents the main channel to communicate bulletins and warning levels to end-users. [Read More]