In January, the European Union launched two research projects aimed at improving resiliency related to extreme weather. Coastal floods are among the most dangerous and harmful of all natural disasters, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Further, coastal flooding risks are increasing with rapid urbanization and climate change.

Improved forecasting, prediction and early warning capabilities can aid risk-reduction strategies, which is one of the goals of the first research project, the Resilience-Increasing Strategies for Coasts-Toolkit (RISC-KIT). The RISC-KIT will include four open-source tools to be released by 2017. The tools will help coastal managers and decision makers better protect coasts from storm surges and flash flooding. Tools include:

  • A Coastal Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF) that quickly assesses present and future hot spots for coastal risk at a regional scale due to multiple hazards,
  • A quantitative, high-resolution early warning and decision support system for use in these hot spots,
  • A web-based management guide offering innovative, cost-effective, ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction measures, and
  • A coastal risk database of present and historic socioeconomic and physical data.

The project is coordinated by Deltares in the Netherlands and includes 18 partners from 10 countries and 2 international organizations, including WMO.

While early warning systems are essential, it is equally important to bring this together with social aspects to improve information dissemination and preparedness. The second research program is Preparing for Extreme and Rare Events in Coastal Regions (PEARL). The four-year project will bring together case study information from seven countries within the European Union and five outside. Further, it will be implemented by a consortium of 24 partners, led by UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.