4.2 From Early Detection and Probabilistic Forecasting of High-Impact Weather to Emergency Response Actions: The I-REACT Project

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 3:00 PM
Salon K (Hilton) (Austin, Texas)
Pertti Nurmi, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland; and K. Ylinen

I-REACT (Improving Resilience to Emergencies through Advanced Cyber Technologies) is a collaborative European Union funded innovation project, www.i-react.eu, with the goal to increase the resilience of European citizens and assets against natural disasters. I-REACT is a large multi-national project with participants from nine countries representing 20 institutes and companies. The objective is to help society become more resilient to crises before, during and after potential emergency events. The obvious rationale behind the project is the society’s increasing exposure and vulnerability to climate change induced natural disasters caused by extreme weather. It is generally acknowledged that both the frequency and severity of extreme weather events are proliferating. All reputable CO2 emission scenarios show the signal that the global surface temperature is on a constant rise to the foreseeable future.

The I-REACT framework is to provide public authorities, private companies and individual citizens with an operational platform supporting the whole emergency risk management cycle. I-REACT will make use of already existing emergency management systems and services as well as multiple data sources available at both local, national and European levels. This information is structured into a platform that integrates and analyses these large amounts of data in order to manage emergencies and to improve the prediction and management of natural disasters. I-REACT aims to become the first Europe-wide platform to integrate emergency management data originating from multiple sources, including first-responders with up-to-date situational information provided by citizens through social media and crowdsourcing. The utmost goal is to develop and bring into operations by the end of the 3-year project, in 2020, an Impact-Based Decision Support System (IDSS) to provide over-arching services for the European citizens. The IDSS will then utilize information from a variety of sources to assist emergency services to devise a better analysis of the intimidating emergency cases and thus enhance and expedite crisis response actions. Some of the already prevalent European frameworks in support of I-REACT include the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS), the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), and European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (E-GNSS). As the project acronym hints, utilization of innovative cyber technologies and ICT systems are key elements for the technical realization of I-REACT.

One of the fundamental activities within I-REACT is to utilize probabilistic forecasts of extreme weather events to define geographical areas at risk within Europe. The key phenomena I-REACT is focusing on are wildfires and flooding. It is the task of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) to develop probabilistic approaches, methodologies and products based on operational ensemble forecasts originating from ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) and GLAMEPS (Grand Limited Area Model Ensemble System) - FMI is member of both these consortia. The product development will essentially focus on calibration of the initial ECMW/GLAMEPS output in order to reduce the quite well-known under dispersion and bias of probabilistic forecasting systems. In the case of wildfires, the calibrated ensemble forecasts are forwarded from FMI to Spanish I-REACT partner, Meteosim, as input for their Fire Weather Index (FWI) model calculations. Their FWI output covering the Europe and time scales from a few hours up to 10 days (see example in the attached figure) is thereafter being transmitted to the I-REACT IDSS platform. Associated with and supporting the meteorological analysis is the utilization of social media streams by applying clustering and classification techniques, text mining and image analysis to design and implement an early event detection technique both serving the I-REACT platform and to verify the forecasted adverse weather events.

The I-REACT project is receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 700256.

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