Climate Change, sea level rising, and frequent extreme storm surges are increasing the risks of coastal flooding and putting the lives of millions of people at risk. In 2020, Europe reported 22 windstorms affecting coastal areas resulting in physical damage estimated at 1 billion Euros as well as 74 deaths and 12 people reported missing.
How can we mitigate the risk of such devastating impacts? Space is part of the solution within the development of a European Coastal Flood Awareness System (ECFAS).
This awareness system will offer strategic information through continuous observations and forecasts for coastal floods meaning national and regional authorities can take necessary action before coastal flooding events take place and limit risks to human lives and infrastructures. As part of the project, CLS will lend its expertise by supporting the calibration and validation of prediction models, defining the portrayal of information layers and mapping products as well as creating a portal to centralize and distribute the data.
Our expert Sébastien Delbour provides us with more details
Heavily involved in using geospatial data for Land Management and Crisis Management applications since he joined CLS in Lille (previously SIRS), Sébastien is now Head of the Rapid Mapping Division.
Fires, floods, storms…we’re currently faced with an upsurge of natural disasters, Sebastién, what solutions can the Space Community provide?
Nearly ten years ago, The Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) was set up to support emergency management activities linked to natural or man-made disasters. Since the start teams at CLS in Lille (previously SIRS) have been part of the on-demand mapping component. In fact, we recently contributed to the 500th activation monitoring fire impact in Australia.
Our experts process optical and radar satellite images during and after extreme events and within hours, provide assessments of impacts, extent & regular updates. Thanks to technological advancements we can provide even higher-resolution products in a very short time-frame.
This is the first time CLS has taken part in the Early Warning & Monitoring component of CEMS aimed at forecasting events such as floods, fires and droughts, how are we involved in the ECFAS project and what are the challenges facing this project?
Two teams at CLS will be involved in the ECFAS project, one in Lille and one in Toulouse:
- Our team in Lille will support the calibration and validation of prediction models developed by our project partners by using its expertise analyzing optical and radar imagery, and defining the portrayal of information layers and mapping products relevant for CEMS Mapping component and user community,
- The team in Toulouse will support the validation of storm surge reanalysis used by project partners to set up their prediction models but will mainly use its know-how to develop a web portal displaying and distributing all the key information to the stakeholders within a number of hours.
The project is facing important human and economic challenges. Coastal regions have a high population density, almost 3 times more than the global average. In Europe, there are more than 50 million people living in low-elevation coastal zones and a further 30 million living in areas of risk. Additionally, coastal zones contain critical socio-economic activities and infrastructures also at risk such as ports, maritime transport networks, tourism etc. Its estimated that by the end of the century, coastal flooding will cause damage ranging between 93 and 961 billion euros.
Being prepared for the impact of coastal storms is becoming increasingly more important. ECFAS is a step towards achieving that goal at a European level.
Thank you, Sébastien, for sharing. To finish, can you introduce us to the other ECFAS team members?
Of course, there are four key members of the ECFAS team. Two in Lille and two in Toulouse. In Lille we have myself:
Project & Team Manager
Expertise: GIS and remote sensing specialist
A few words on the project: “This project, funded by the H2020 programme, allows CLS both to enhance the expertise and experience acquired through the mapping component of CEMS, and to contribute to the design and implementation of an early warning tool combining multiple data sources and skills. It also represents a great opportunity to position itself as a leading player in providing relevant support to actors working on a daily basis in coastal risk reduction and crisis management.”
Project & Study Engineer
Expertise: Remote Sensing Specialist
A few words on the project: “CLS uses its 10+ years experience in CEMS services to support ECFAS in understanding how preparedness, prevention and emergency mapping can work hand in hand. The combination of prediction models and Earth Observation information will help emergency mapping fill in the gaps and provide crisis managers with a better situational awareness”.
In Toulouse we have:
Project & Team Leader
Expertise: Oceanography, Satellite Altimetry
A few words on the project: “This ambitious research project is a real opportunity for CLS to bring our expertise in Earth Observation over both land and ocean. We also empower the project by providing our know-how in user-oriented web portal co-design and development, ultimate link to disseminate the generated information to coastal risk managers in Europe.”
Software Architect & Project Manager
Expertise: Software development, Satellite Altimetry
A few words on the project: “This project will allow us to use the resources of DIAS set up by Europe, we will be able to take advantage of a simplified access to the data and deploy the treatments as close as possible to it. We will put our experience on the deployment of data dissemination platform on the cloud.”