Integrating a European Rainfall-InduCed Hazard Assessment system (ERICHA)

EC -ECHO/SUB/2015/718684/PREV30 (EC project website)  

Heavy rain and severe storm phenomena (wind gusts, lightning, hail...) are the triggering factors of a number of different natural hazards (flash floods, landslides, debris flows...) that have impacts on people’s life and goods throughout Europe. In this context, the policies for risk response and management are turning to a more adapted risk management approach. Particularly, the EU Floods Directive introduces the need to implement Flood Risk Management Plans at basin level considering the full disaster management cycle (i.e., prevention, preparedness, response and recovery), and identifies the importance of efficient Early Warning Systems. In this context, the development of tools capitalizing on the advances in observation systems and in the capacity to anticipate the phenomena triggering the events, and their impacts, to support decision to manage emergency operations in real-time is crucial.  

A successful example of this is the platform for precipitation hazard assessment at European scale developed under the EC Civil Protection Prevention project HAREN (230301/2011/614151/SUB/A5) which have been tested and validated during the demonstration project EDHIT (ECHO/SUB/2013/661005). This platform applies the algorithms developed in the FP7 project IMPRINTS (FP7-ENV-2008-1-226555) to the radar mosaics produced by the EUMETNET project OPERA and to the Continental lightning observations to monitor the precipitation field over Europe, and has shown the interest of its products and their added value to support hazard identification at European scale.

The main benefit of the system is its high spatial and temporal resolution (producing high-resolution rainfall forecasts every 15 minutes with lead times up to 6 hours) and its complementarity to systems based on Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models, which have resolutions quite often not adequate to resolve convective storms, sometimes very local and with lifetimes of a few hours.

In this context the present project ERICHA proposes a significant step ahead looking for the integration of these high added-value products into the real-time operational platform of the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS), which provides direct support to the European Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) of the DG ECHO, as well as to a large number of European Water Agencies and many national Civil Protections. Which will ensure their real-time availability beyond the duration of the project.  

The ultimate goal of the project ERICHA is to integrate the products developed in the HAREN & EDHIT projects as a new component for high-resolution very short-term hazard anticipation and assessment in the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS).

The ERICHA system will be operational at the end of 2016 at the EFAS computational centre run by the ECMWF, and after testing and validation will be operationally available through EFAS from March 2017.

A final workshop will be held at the ERCC (DG-ECHO) premises on 14th June 2017 in which the new operational tools will be publicly presented.