by Ilias Pechlivanidis (SMHI, Sweden), Michaela Mikulicková (SMHU, Slovakia), Eric Sprokkereef (RWS, Netherlands)
Due to the high need from different sectors, there is a continuous effort to disseminate the challenges and highlight the innovation in operational and impact forecasting, preparedness and decision-making in natural hazards. Among the various events and workshops, the European Geosciences Union (EGU) 2019 General Assembly, and the WMO RA VI Hydrology Forum 2019 are couple to highlight.
EGU 2019 was once again a great success, bringing together about 16,300 scientists from 113 countries in Vienna, Austria, on the 7-12 April. In particular, the HS4.3.1/NH1.35 PICO session “Operational forecasting and warning systems for natural hazards: challenges and innovation” has been gaining popularity among the various sessions in hydrological forecasting, supported from the HEPEX scientific initiative. Over the two session slots, 29 presentations were given overflowing the available space (Photo 1).
The field of natural hazards covers a wide range of expertise, and consequently the PICO session attracted contributions from, among others, flooding, tsunami, volcano, landslide, maritime, ecology, risk from extremes, response preparedness, impact forecasting, and disaster relief. The session was, as in the previous years, a step forward to bridge the gap between scientists, water managers, users, and decision-makers and allow co-evolution of knowledge. The 29 presenters highlighted the various efforts on the development and operation of services around the world with applications at scales from regional to global. Attention was given towards disseminating predictions in an easily understood, particularly from the users-side, manner. A key message was that “A service is not ready when it is launched, but rather when it is understood by its users”. Some presentations highlighted the efforts to support emergency services, e.g. the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, the Red Cross, and the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, which required timely provided information at local, regional and national scales. Services co-generated for addressing user-needs at sub-seasonal (up to a month ahead) to seasonal scales (up to a year ahead) seem to have been increased; however services addressing societal needs up to few days ahead are present and continuously improved. A subset of the PICO presentations is given below.
To address the European user needs for the energy sector, industrial and research partners in the S2S4E project, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme and coordinated by the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, developed an operational service to provide sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasts of essential climate variables and indicators, and consequently assist in renewable energy decision-making (see Photo 2). The service integrates for the first time sub-seasonal and seasonal predictions in the same platform in a seamless way. The tool is designed for both the lay user and the advanced technician, displaying both basic and intuitive information for skill, information about extreme events and general climatology (see details).
To improve the way in which extreme European hydrological events are managed, research partners of the Imprex project, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme and coordinated by KNMI, demonstrated the use of (semi-) operational products in a risk outlook tool in order to improve awareness and preparedness. The tool provides information at the seasonal timescale which allows planning and implementation of action in many operational environments and matches the timescale of droughts. In this demonstration of the Imprex Risk Outlook Tool, openly available European hydro-meteorological forecast data resources were demonstrated and historical forecasts were interpreted to provide seasonal forecast guidance and hence address the water-relevant concerns of users (see details).
In summary, this PICO session brought together the expertise from a unique panel of scientists-managers-policy makers and gave them the opportunity to explore differences, similarities, problems and solutions between forecasting systems for varying natural hazards. It is definitely not an easy task to thoroughly present the efforts at the international level; participation in similar sessions is therefore important and therefore highly recommended. A similar PICO will take place next year at EGU 2020 (Vienna, 3-8 May).
WMO RA VI Hydrology Forum 2019
The WMO Regional Association VI Hydrology Forum took place in Bratislava, Slovakia on 2-4 April 2019 and was hosted by the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute.
The Hydrology Forum is a platform for members of the WMO Regional Association VI (Europe) to exchange good practices and technical solutions in hydrology and promote approaches that will improve the cost-efficiency of monitoring systems.
56 experts from more than 30 countries of RA VI, from Iceland to Kazakhstan, participated in the meeting. It was focused on Hydrological data. The role of hydrological service, hydrological information and data, their availability and exchange. Hydrological products were discussed as well.
Country case studies on redesigning and outsourcing of the monitoring network, comparison of traditional and new measurement techniques and data availability were presented. Questions on open data, network redesign, traditional versus modern measurement techniques were addressed in smaller groups discussions.
Within the section Dialogue with Stakeholders Eric Sprokkereef from the EFAS Dissemination Centre described recent developments in EFAS and GLOFAS.
Furthermore, participants were apprised of WMO activities and UN global initiatives. All presentations are available at RA VI Hydrology Forum dedicated web page.
Future events: IUGG 2019 and H-SAF workshop
Two great opportunities to disseminate scientific knowledge in hydrological forecasting are the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) Assembly (Montréal, 8-18 July), and the Satellite Application Facility on Support to Operational Hydrology and Water Management (H-SAF) workshop (Reading, 3-7 November).
The 27th IUGG General Assembly marks the 100th anniversary of IUGG and is a special opportunity for participants from around the world to come together and share their science and culture. As usually, there will be a host of scientific activities, including special public lectures, keynote Union lectures and a wide variety of themed sessions. Scientific insights in hydrological forecasting will be presented in a number of sessions, covering applications at time scales from short to seasonal (see sessions).
In late November, two scientific initiatives, HEPEX and H-SAF, jointly organize a workshop at ECMWF to highlight and strengthen the link between satellite products and hydrological downstream applications. To steer more the interest the H-SAF team will present the H-SAF soil moisture, snow and precipitation products. Find more information here.