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Projects Flood, drought and multi-risk assessment

Our research on flood, drought and multi-risk focuses on interactions between natural hazards and society to understand risk processes.

We develop and use state-of-the-art datasets and models for assessing flood and drought risk on local to global scales to increase our process understanding and to assess the effectiveness of disaster risk reductions solutions.

Below an overview

Projects

  • Adaptation behaviour to droughts and climate change in Kenya and Ethiopia (2015-present)

    Food production in Kenya depends heavily on smallholder rain-fed agriculture; but farm households are challenged to match the erratic rainfall with crop water requirements. Increasing climate variability and changing socio-economic conditions are exacerbating the frequency and intensity of droughts and aggravate local food insecurity. Integrated water resources management and risk-informed disaster risk reduction strategies are key to ensure sustainable development in this country.

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  • PerfectSTORM (2021-2026)

    Future climate projections show a strengthening of the hydrological cycle with more droughts and floods expected. This means a higher likelihood of cascading drought-to-flood disasters. Recent examples are the Millennium Drought – Brisbane flooding in Australia, the California drought – Oroville spillway collapse in the US, or the 2017-18 drought in East Africa followed by floods that resulted in hundreds of deaths. These events resulted in large economic losses, casualties and displacements. 

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  • MYRIAD-EU (2021-2025)

    Multi-hazard and sYstemic framework for enhancing Risk-Informed mAnagement and Decision-making in the EU

    Natural hazards have caused ~100,000 fatalities and over €100 billion in economic losses in the EU since 2000. The last decade saw huge scientific advances in understanding natural hazard risks, and within the EU there has been a shift in practice from managing hazards to managing risks. Nevertheless, most research and policy still address risk from a single hazard, single sector, perspective. This presents obstacles for addressing real-world challenges faced by risk managers and other decision-makers. A paradigm shift is needed to successfully address these kinds of complex questions and challenges, in which science and practice move from a single hazard, single sector, risk perspective towards a multi-risk, multi-sector, systemic approach.

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  • Consecutive disasters (2019-2025)

    In recent decades, a striking number of countries have suffered from consecutive disasters: events whose impacts overlap both spatially and temporally, while recovery is still under way. The risk of consecutive disasters will increase due to growing exposure, the interconnectedness of human society and the increased frequency and intensity of non-tectonic hazard. While a large body of literature addresses multi-risk based on the spatial overlap between the exposure of different hazard types faced by one particular area, the temporal aspect of sequential hazards has been studied to a much lesser extent.

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  • STORM (2016-2024)

    STORM (Synthetic Tropical cyclone generation Model) is designed to statistically extend any meteorological dataset to 10,000 years of tropical cyclone activity under the same climate conditions.

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  • MOSAIC (2020-2023)

    Coastal flooding due to tropical cyclones causes damages up to hundreds of billions of euros per event. The aim of the MOdelling Sea level And Inundation for Cyclones (MOSAIC) project is developing and validating a computationally efficient, scalable, framework for large-scale flood risk assessment.

    We will simulate extreme sea levels for thousands of synthetic tropical cyclones – using goal programming as a tool to reduce the computational costs and combine multiple tropical cyclones into one simulation. We will simulate flood inundation at high resolution by nesting local models within a global model – by coupling our models with the OMUSE software which allows for a multi-scale modelling approach. The novel framework is an important step towards improved global assessments of flood risk.

    This study is conducted in collaboration with Netherlands eScience Center and Deltares.

    Contact information: Dr Sanne Muis, Prof. Philip Ward and Job Dullaart.

  • Future Water Challenges 2 (2020-2022)

    Water- and climate-related risks and developments show large differences between regions. The most significant challenges are projected for large portions of the developing world. However, the developed world also needs to adapt. Cities, infrastructure, and operations of many sectors are still based on the climate regime of the past. Global coherent adaptation pathways are still lacking. Creating them is an essential, first step towards sustainable and climate-resilient development. To address this, the Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving created that Future Water Challenges 2 (FWC2) project. This project aims to model these pathways forward. The IVM is leading the global flood risk modelling portion of FWC2. Using the revolutionary GLOFRIS framework, project members within IVM are tasked with quantifying the benefits and costs of disaster risk reduction strategies (e.g., structural barriers, nature-based solutions, managed retreat). These strategies are modelled against both existing and projected coastal and riverine flood risk. With these results, the IVM and project partners will lead the global charge to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on all segments of society.

    This study is conducted in collaboration with PBL, Deltares and Utrecht University.

    Contact information: Eric Mortensen and  Prof. Philip Ward

  • C40 – Water Safe Cities (2020-2021)

    In the Water Safe Cities project, we provide 97 cities globally with an overview of flood and drought risk and corresponding expected annual damages. Cities require this information because they are taking increasingly more prominent roles in combating disaster risk, and because they are especially susceptible to disaster related damages due to their high levels of exposure. 

    We focus on five hydrological hazards (pluvial, fluvial and coastal flooding & agricultural and hydrological drought) on both current as well as future (2050) timescales. Results are disseminated towards cities in a story map to create awareness and to steer them in the right direction for adaptation. This research is an initial step in better representing urban regions in global scale disaster models, which is needed to enable comparison between cities and identification of similar cities in terms of risk profiles and potential adaptation strategies.

    This study is conducted in collaboration with Climate Adaptation Services (CAS) and C40-Cities. 

    Contact information: Tristian Stolte, Dr Hans de Moel, Prof. Philip Ward.

  • Compound risks in fragile contexts – Examples from the Horn of Africa (2020-2021)

    Humanitarian crises often result from a combination of multiple physical and societal, rather than individual processes. In these situations, the combination of processes leads to ‘compound events’, which socio-economic impacts could be larger than those forecasted by analysing each event individually.  In recent years, the Horn of Africa has been increasingly exposed to compound events. Frequent extreme dry and wet conditions often compound with its fragile context characterized by internal ethnic conflicts, unstable governments, and high levels of poverty, resulting in impacts usually larger than expected. An improved understanding of the drivers and their interactions can help to reduce future risks associated to compound events. 

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  • Wildfires and drought risk in the Netherlands (2020-2021)

    While wildfires in the Netherlands do not compare to the disruptive events in Australia, they do pose an increasing risk to nature and society due to an increased risk of droughts. This was illustrated in 2018, one of the driest years since 1976, which showed a threefold increase of forest fire alarms compared to an average year.

    In this project we assess: (1) the linkages between drought risk and wildfire risk in the Netherlands and (2) the socio-economic impacts of wildfires in the Netherlands.

    This study was conducted in collaboration with VU Earth Sciences, Instituut Fysieke Veiligheid and Vandersat.

    Contact information: Dr Marleen de Ruiter and Dr Toon Haer.

  • Compound risk of river and coastal floods in global deltas and estuaries (2016-2021)

    Flooding in deltas and estuaries is driven by the interactions of oceanographic, hydrological, and meteorological phenomena such as extreme rainfall, river discharge, storm surge, and wave action. When these co-occur in space and time, they can exacerbate the flood extent, depth, and duration locally, resulting in a so-called compound flood event.

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  • Connect 4 Water Resilience – Connect4WR (2019-2021)

    Connect4WR explores the links between water resources and communities in four countries of the Limpopo Basin in southern Africa – Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The Limpopo basin is an arid, water-stressed basin, which is also highly susceptible to floods. Intermittent floods and droughts worsen water availability and quality problems, and both types of events are predicted to increase in frequency and magnitude with global climate change.

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  • Losses from wind-storms over Europe – WISC2 (2019-2020)

    In this project we aim, together with partners at KNMI, CGI and Reading University, at developing a near real-time operational system to estimate losses from storm systems hitting Europe. Funded by the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF), this project develops new climate services for the insurance and energy sector in Europe. It will become part of the Copernicus Climate Change Service implemented by ECMWF.

    First, for individual storms the near-surface wind speed footprint is calculated (i.e. the Hazard). The infrastructure's exposure, based on OpenStreetMap, and vulnerability then, together with the storm's footprint determine the total estimated losses.

    Contact information: Dr Dim Coumou and Dr Toon Haer.

    For more information, please visit the site https://climate.copernicus.eu/

  • Flood and drought risk profiles for Africa (2018-2020)

    In 2018, as part of the ‘Building Disaster Resilience to Natural Hazards in Sub-Saharan African Regions, Countries and Communities’ Programme funded by the European Union, the National Disaster Management Authority, UNDRR and the CIMA Research Foundation, in collaboration with WUR and VU-IVM, have developed risk profiles for floods and droughts at national level for sixteen African countries. The Country Risk Profiles provide a comprehensive view of hazard, risk and uncertainties for floods and droughts in a changing climate and socio-economic situation, projected over the next 50 years. The profiles include an estimation – under current and future climate – of the monetary losses for a number of sectors identified by the Sendai targets, namely: housing, health and education, agriculture, productive asset, critical infrastructure, housing, services and transports.

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  • Global distribution of phytoplankton ensembles in the upper ocean (2016-2020)

    The project's goal is to develop new methodologies to monitor our oceans’ health on a global scale. Satellite sensors such as NASA’s SeaWiFs and MERIS and the more recent OLCI sensor onboard ESA’s Sentinel-3 satellite have opened up the possibility to get a birds-eye view of our oceans and track changes over decadal scales. The research revolves around the development of new methods to invert multi- and hyperspectral data that is acquired by ocean colour satellites. With our new inversion scheme, we are able to estimate water quality parameters such as the concentration of different phytoplankton groups, dissolved and particulate matter in the world’s oceans. In this manner we hope to get a better understanding of the biological and chemical evolution of our oceans.

    This study was conducted in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam.

    Contact information: Tadzio Holtrop and Dr Hans van der Woerd.

    For more information visit the site gitlab.com/tadzio/

  • Understanding hail risks (2019)

    Within the EIT Climate-KIC programme ‘One Million near-zero energy homes in 2023’ the Institute for Enviromental Studies cooperates with Achmea (one of the largest insurers in the Netherlands) and the KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) to investigate hail risks.

    Background
    Extreme hailstorms are associated with very warm (convective) weather conditions and can cause a lot of damage in very little time. In fact, the largest ever insured disaster in the Netherlands is a recent hailstorm (July 2016 in the province of Brabant) which costed about €600 million, and in Germany five large hailstorm resulted in €2500 million damage in 2013.

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  • Global Flood Monitoring using social media (2015-2019)

    The Global Flood Monitor provides a real-time overview of ongoing flood events as well as historic flood events based on Twitter data. Specifically, the global flood monitor (GFM) detects, in real-time, regions with enhanced flood-related Twitter activity and classifies these as flood events. Then, it generates a world-map visualizing these events and their relevant tweets. The platform also provides access to historical events dating back to July 2014.

    Contact information: Dr Jens de Bruijn

    For more information please visit the following site: www.globalfloodmonitor.org

    Publication
    de Bruijn, J.A., de Moel, H., Jongman, B. et al. (2018). TAGGS: Grouping Tweets to Improve Global Geoparsing for Disaster Response.  Journal of Geovisualization and Spatial Analysis, 2, 2. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41651-017-0010-6