Through early alerting of imminent floods and precise monitoring of flood evolution it is possible to action an improved response to flooding events in order to better protect lives and property. Earlier this month Ambiental attended the International Conference on Flood Management to showcase the latest technology in flood forecasting and monitoring.

Delegates assemble in the exhibition hall at Leeds University for ICFM7

The 7th International Conference on Flood Management (ICFM7) held in Leeds (5-7th September) provided a unique forum to discuss the many issues which affect society’s responses to flood risk and associated issues. The event addressed a range of issues and challenges that affect flood management, particularly the need to build resilience into future planning. It provides a forum for researchers, industry, policymakers and other stakeholders, to identify the key concerns and significant challenges of the future.

Ambiental is an established flood risk specialist providing flood hazard mapsflood risk assessments and catastrophe models for the insurance industry, governments and non-governmental organisations in the UK and internationally. In recent years the company has undertaken several innovative research projects which have resulted in the development of tools and techniques for the advancement of flood prediction and monitoring. This article summarises the content of Ambiental’s presentation which showcased these technologies and explains the benefits they offer to those involved in flood emergency response.

 

Leveraging new technology to enable better flood predictions

 The seminar presentations provided insights into urban flood risk management

Ambiental has applied emerging scientific techniques and data sources in order to produce new and improved flood data products. In a seminar session exploring urban flood risk management Product Manager Paul Drury provided insights into how the company builds hydraulic models to simulate flooding and demonstrated how high precision can be achieved through superior input data. It also demonstrated how viable levels of predictive accuracy are still achievable even when input data is sparse or lacking, such as when modelling floods in low-income developing countries.

Ambiental is working with the government of Malaysia to map flood risk and deliver flood forecasting technologies which predict when flooding will occur. This project is part funded by the UK Space Agency and led by Satellite Applications Catapult. Flood warnings are provided through an integrated software platform which can issue alerts and forewarn authorities so that disaster response teams can be mobilised and vulnerable people can be evacuated to safety. Flood warnings are served through the Earth and Sea Observation System (EASOS), which is an integrated civil defence dashboard system.

 

Monitoring flood events for improved situational awareness 

The presentation described Ambiental’s various types of predictive flood models

Ambiental is also working with leading satellite data providers to develop systems which are able to monitor floods as they occur. Through smart-tasking of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites it is possible to capture high resolution data from flood events and ensure that the data captured is acquired at the right time and in the right place.

By implementing the latest scientific techniques of flood modelling and image processing, coupled with innovative post-production techniques using Geographic Information Systems, it has been possible to derive highly accurate flood extents and flood depth predictions. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that this data can be obtained in short timeframes and delivered via automated delivery systems, so that it is available rapidly enough to be of considerable benefit to emergency response teams. This system was tested during storm Desmond and proved successful in deriving flood extents which validated extremely well against actual recorded observations on the ground.

 

Enabling an effective disaster response capability

 The conference included an exhibition of historic flood imagery curated by Joanna Brown

Flooding has always posed a threat and historic records are testament to how past generations have coped with and adapted to flood risk. It is important that we acknowledge past lessons and prepare for a future compounded with the uncertainty of climate change. The European Environment Agency recently published a report predicting that Flood Losses in Europe to Increase Fivefold by 2050 which was attributed to climate change, increasing value of land around floodplains and urban development.

Whilst it is often not possible to prevent floods occurring it is achievable to dramatically reduce the negative impacts of flooding through a better understanding of the potential risks in order to make detailed disaster plans. If response coordinators are able to detect an impending flood early enough then this can allow sufficient time to make preparations and mobilise the response efforts.

Through having rapid access to data products which monitor floods it is possible to provide emergency responders with a much clearer understanding of the precise extent of flooding and react accordingly. With flood hazard predicted to increase in the future and with the expected increases in the number of people and properties exposed to flood risk there is a growing need for better quality data and for more certainty in flood predictions.

If you would like to know more about how Ambiental can assist our clients with a variety of flood risk solutions contact us. We will be happy to demonstrate our technology and advise on how our data, software systems, data analysts and flood risk consultants can assist you.

Leeds University provided a great location for the ICFM7 conference

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