Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


PEARL Report Summary

Project ID: 603663
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT
Country: France

Periodic Report Summary 2 - PEARL (Preparing for Extreme And Rare events in coastaL regions)

Project Context and Objectives:
Preparing for Extreme and Rare Events in Coastal Regions (PEARL) is a four year project which involves 24 international partners. The main goal of PEARL is to develop adaptive, sociotechnical risk management measures and strategies for coastal communities against extreme hydro-meteorological events minimising social, economic and environmental impacts and increasing the resilience of Coastal Regions in Europe.

To achieve its main goal, PEARL adopts a holistic risk management approach, based on the following three premises:

• First, risk management is a sociotechnical process, which cannot be studied by separating social and technical processes (i.e., parts) and designing them in isolation.
• Second, the relationships between the parts are mutual, emergent, dynamic and nonlinear and are guided by the self-organising capacities of each part and the (unpredictable) dynamics of their coevolution.
• Third, the process of strengthening any kind of flood risk mitigation measure (such as forecasting, prediction and early warning capabilities) should be understood and studied within the context of the larger flood management process which depends on interactions with other sub-processes at different levels.

The project is structured around 8 Work Packages (WPs)

WP1 Aims to develop an understanding of the formation of vulnerabilities and risks in coastal regions by applying the extended FORIN (Forensic Investigations of Disasters) methodology and developing the vulnerability assessment framework. It addresses all possible root causes and their interdependencies in order to provide the basis to develop a framework for the holistic risk assessment work.

WP2 is focusing on novel methods and tools for hazard assessment considering scenarios of extreme events, climate change and individual and coinciding events.

WP3 is concerned with methods for the holistic assessment of risk due to individual and coinciding (or multiple) hazardous events.

WP4 deals specifically with advances in early warning systems, methodologies and tools. It also addresses different sources of uncertainties and the ways of how to approach uncertainty analysis.

WP5 aims to identify resilient strategies (i.e., protection, short- and-long term adaptation and mitigation strategies) and develop a knowledge base of existing and novel strategies and measures and the associated tools for their evaluation and assessment. It focuses on decision support for policy development and work on science-policy interfacing with an emphasis on risk governance.

All the developed concepts, methodologies and tools will be tested and demonstrated in the case study work being coordinated in WP6. WP6 is also concerned with efficient data storage and management. It builds upon the existing EU initiatives and Directives for the management of data infrastructure as well as the experience and data infrastructure developed within previous projects.

WP7 focuses on dissemination and outreach, supporting an international knowledge and practice community, while fostering clustering activities with other projects.

WP8 deals with project management and coordination aspects, with direct input from a selected team of high profile international collaborators and advisors.

Project Results:
In general, a good progress has been made across the project and work packages, in relation to the deliverables and milestones.

In WP1, a desk study of the multi-dimensional drivers of coastal vulnerability and risk was undertaken, along with a literature review of the root causes and impacts of coastal flooding in Europe. This review was conducted alongside the development of the draft Risk and Root Cause Analysis (RRCA) Framework. The literature review confirmed gaps in the scholarship on coastal flood risk and holistic perspectives in Europe. The analysis confirmed the central tenets of the FORIN approach, namely the embedded nature of disaster events in historically configured physical, socio-economic and governmental processes and the multi-faceted and inter-connected nature of these different dimensions of root causes.

The RRCA framework integrates the FORIN approach of assessing the root causes of disasters and the UNU methodology for the vulnerability assessment to natural hazards. The RRCA framework connects historic, societal and governance developments and contemporary risk processes in the context of small scales but high local impact coastal flood disasters, going beyond the state of the art of both vulnerability assessments and root cause assessments.

Work is underway to complete the analysis of case analyses and vulnerability assessments in four locations (Genoa, Italy; Rethymno, Greece; St Maarten / St Martin and The Elbe Estuary, Germany). With the exception of Hamburg, researchers are conducting or planning to conduct in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a small but representative sample of stakeholders.

In WP2, a new coupled model set-up to investigate regional sea level rise and changes in the statistics of extreme sea level events in transient climate simulations for European coasts has been developed. Within the PEARL modelling cascade, the output of this coupled model is used to drive very high resolution models by the project partners. Progress is being made on the development of a novel high resolution atmospheric model. The model will then be used to investigate extreme precipitation events for a few selected case studies.

An open source 3D unstructured mesh ocean model for has been developed. An associated meshing tool is being developed which will allow accurate and computationally efficient representation of complex forms. This model has been used for the simulation of different hazard scenarios, considering extreme rainfall events, extreme sea surge events, and a combination of extreme rainfall and sea surge

In WP3, The development of a RAFT: ‘Risk Assessment Framework and onTology is ongoing. The Ontology serves two purposes: It forms a shared knowledge-base on flood risk assessment within the PEARL project and for usage in the PEARL tasks and methods, and it informs the agent-based models that are developed in PEARL. The holistic and multiple risk assessment framework and ontology is under development, and will be finalised in accordance with the DoW.

Progress is underway on developing future land use change and urbanisation scenarios. Land use maps have been collected for all EU case study areas. For the study area of Rethymno, NTUA has produced initial future urban growth scenarios for by applying a reengineered Cellular Automata (CA) model equipped with fuzzy interface. This work is progressing well and it will be used in the analysis of scenarios.

A desk study on the state-of-the-art of economic damages has been completed. Furthermore, a report explaining the indirect damages framework has been written. The root causes of indirect tangible damages have been identified, which includes business interruption, traffic disruption, public services interruption, and the relocation of evacuees. Data collection for the calibration and validation of the model has started. A desk study has been completed on the indirect damage assessment of a flood event for the Hamburg case study.

Improvements have been made to a health impacts model by completing the coupling between a 1D/2D flood model and water quality and health risk model. This extends and improves the earlier version of the method because now, temporally- and spatially-varying estimates of health risks can be obtained.

Initial work on the development of an Agent Based Model for institutional analysis has been undertaken at the case study of Saint Maarten. The model structure has been defined and background data has been collected.

Work has also been undertaken on the assessment of risk from combined events, considering the hydraulic modelling and the location of key assets and infrastructure. Work is underway at Les Boucholeurs in France, Rethymno, Saint Maarten, and Ayutthaya, Thailand.

In WP4, significant progress has been made in the development of Flood Early Warning Systems for Coastal Regions for three case studies, in Greve in Denmark, St Lucia in the Carribean, and the Elbe Estuary in Germany.

A real-time flood forecast model has been setup for Greve. The model consists of an urban drainage model for the sewer system, and a hydrodynamic storm surge model for the coastal area. The two models are linked dynamically and exchange information about flow and water levels in real time. For St Lucia, a model has been set up which includes precipitation forecasts, river flow and the coastal model. An early warning model has also been established into the KALYPSO framework at the Elbe estuary.

To assess the potential for simulations to be conducted more quickly, tests have been undertaken using Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) for the Greve case study, and this work is showing promise.

A preliminary version of guidelines for uncertainty propagation analysis has been written. This required a literature review on all the elements of an Early Warning System, and all the uncertain parameters.

Two prototype smart phone apps have been developed for the dissemination of warnings and the collection of flood data (FloodWatch and Water Detective). These are being tested in Greece and will be made available to all PEARL partners in autumn 2015.

In WP5, progress is underway on stakeholder engagement. Guidelines have been developed for the PEARL case study partners to work with stakeholders in their case study, and these partners are working on the establishment of Learning and Action Alliances. A guideline for reporting on the progress on the respective LAAs will be sent to the case study partners in autumn 2015.

There has been some delay or downscaling of the initial workshops, due to unforeseen reasons, however, in Rethymno and Genoa smaller more focused meetings have taken place. Plans are in foot to continue with the planned workshops.

The development of an intelligent knowledge base, representing a comprehensive repository of resilience measures and strategies, is underway. A generic approach has been incorporated which can easily be adapted to any conceptual data model. 113 resilience measures have already been identified along with their attributes.

In WP6, a metadata catalogue has been established for the case studies, and a survey has been conducted to assess the availability of data required.

Within WP7, the project has developed its internet presence and identity ( It provides general information about the project, displays the main achievements and products of each WP and case study, and presents the latest news. It also contains links to related projects under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration, such as RISC-Kit and ASTARTE.

The website includes links to connect to the PEARL Group Space on the IWA Water Wiki and the meta data catalogue.

WP8 is concerned with the management of the project. The PMG group has been established to assist the project coordinator in this task. Several procedures have been defined for monitoring and dissemination of the information. During this reporting period two amendments has been completed to the consortium agreement as requested by the partners involved and to facilitate the completion of the work. The PMG is continuously facilitating the collaboration and communication between the different partners to ensure the progress of the different tasks, the scientific relevance of the project, financial viability, gender equality, etc., in compliance with the EC principles and regulations.

Potential Impact:
The project will provide the means to establish a pan-European harmonised risk management governance system that can make coastal communities more resilient and adaptable against extreme hydro-meteorological events, and also facilitate the sharing of best practice. PEARL will develop and apply innovative methods and tools to model socio- technical systems and convey the results to the end-users in an efficient way. The project has a strong social and institutional as well as a technological component and as such it is believed that the project addresses the full spectrum of expected developments with a potential for a significant impact and on risk governance science and practices in Coastal Regions.

Expected Results:
- Development of Risk and Root Cause Assessment framework through the understanding of formation of vulnerabilities and risk in coastal regions, the development of vulnerability assessment framework and the examination of possible root causes and their interdependencies;
- Development of extreme event scenarios and framework for estimation of hazards under extreme events through the development and use of novel multi-physics concepts and modelling tools;
- A Holistic and Multiple Risk Assessment due to individual and coinciding or multiple hazardous events;
- Improvement of the state of art in flood forecasting and early warning for coastal areas across the whole chain of early warning from data to warning dissemination;
- Identification of decision processes, risk perceptions and resilient strategies for developing a framework and an intelligent knowledge base, representing comprehensive repository of resilience measures and strategies and methods to evaluate their efficiency;
- An interactive web-based and planning platform providing PEARL processes, tools, methods and frameworks to stakeholders for developing risk management roadmaps and general guidance for decision support and policy development in order to enhance and maintain flood resilience.

The project approaches the specific impacts as follows:

(a) Faster attainment of the disaster risk reduction goals of UNISDR
The 2009 UNISDR Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2011 report, of the same title, set 4 strategic objectives in terms of Risk Reduction:
▪ Disaster risk reduction accepted and applied for climate change adaption
▪ Measurable increase in investments in disaster risk reduction
▪ Disaster-resilient cities and
▪ Strengthened international system for disaster risk reduction.
PEARL supports all 4 objectives and in particular: develops a holistic risk management framework (supported by novel concepts and models to better understand the evolution of extreme hydro-meteorological events under climate change and the consequent socio-technical risks) directly anchored on local societies and sound governance. It directly address the current lack of interaction between social aspects and engineering, which emerges as a major hindrance for acceptance of sound strategies associated with floods and flood-related disasters. This was especially highlighted in the Chengdu Declaration for Action of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), where local capacity building, national-local cooperation and awareness feature prominently in the policy agenda. It promotes investment in risk reduction through the explicit production of actionable roadmaps for risk management developed nine European Coastal Areas (and a number of international). It places resilience at the heart of the research and development, by developing a holistic risk assessment including risk cascading effects, as well as by developing an intelligent knowledge base, representing a comprehensive repository of resilience measures and strategies and methods to evaluate their efficiency. The knowledge-base gathers real case studies and demonstrations of best practice across the EU on resilient measures and strategies, firmly embedded into the social, technical, institutional, organisational and economic realities faced by coastal communities. Furthermore, through a carefully developed dissemination and communication strategy, led by WMO and IWA, PEARL strengthen partnerships, international coordination and information exchange. Also, the fact that the project team will receive the support in all case study areas where the local project partners accepted to support the project team and promote the results, opens possibility to better fertilisation of the project

(b) Design of cost-effective risk-reduction plans, based on the proposed tools and solutions.
PEARL will develop a framework (WP5) for strengthening resilience in coastal regions focusing on multiple hazards that may result from extreme events and metrics (incl. but not restricted to cost effectiveness) for the evaluation of different resilient strategies (including new early warning system developments undertaken within PEARL (WP4)). It will further collect necessary information and data on relevant flood resilience strategies (generic and case study-specific) and structure it within a state-of-art flexible knowledge base that far exceeds the functionality of conventional databases and which can inform end users on the applicability of various measures and strategies for given local conditions, types of hazards, scenarios etc and will be applicable to all nine case studies. In parallel, PEARL (WP5) will analyse key stakeholders, decision processes, risk perceptions and information flows to identify leverage points and appropriate scales/contexts, in which PEARL support would result in the most pronounced impact and engage stakeholders through learning and action alliances, supported by an online collaborative learning and planning platform, on the development of specific actionable risk management roadmaps (utilising the knowledge collected and analysed within the knowledge-base (WP5) as well as the agent based modelling work in (WP3) for all case study areas.

(c) Improved risk governance and preparedness through the provision of timely information and warnings to decision-makers.
The project directly addresses the need for effective governance arrangements supporting resilient flood risk management strategies on the short and long term. Based on a review of the existing literature about governance of adaptation, resilience and flood risk management and related research domains, a generic institutional analysis framework will be developed for establishing effective governance for supporting flood resilience in practice. Taking into account both the perspective of institutional systems as a whole and the roles and perspectives of individual actors, this framework will enhance the implementation of structural and non-structural measures examined in WP5. Furthermore, it will provide support for governance at both strategic planning and operational planning scales to effectively prevent, cope and recover from flooding. Specifically, PEARL will: 1) evaluate the effectiveness of existing governance arrangements for enhancing and maintaining flood resilience; and 2) develop guiding principles and procedures to assist policy makers, planners and project managers with establishing flood resilience. Key PEARL elements that guarantee improved risk governance are: (a) Interaction with key stakeholders directly supported through an online collaborative platform (WP5). (b) empowering stakeholders to timely participate in the decision making process through the learning & action alliances (WP5) supported by capacity building methods and tools (WP7) and c) significant development on Flood Forecasting and Early Warning Systems for Coastal Regions: PEARL (in WP4) will develop and evaluate new methods for flood forecast and real time early warning. The project will also improve the speed of state-of-art modelling tools for early warning, in order to achieve sufficient lead times for emergency actions and further develop the use of emerging web technologies and real-time applications. Work will be undertaken to develop new, and customise existing methods and concepts for fast flood simulations in areas with combined flood risks, e.g. from coastal, fluvial and pluvial flooding and develop and evaluate methods for uncertainty propagation and its impacts on early warnings and real-time decision making. Furthermore, PEARL will advance and evaluate the linking between early warning service providers and decision makers’ command and control systems and improve both formal and informal dissemination of information from early warning systems. Last but not least, PEARL will apply and evaluate new paradigms and technologies based on smart devices for early warning. As such PEARL advances will contribute to the complete chain of early warning systems, from forecasts and data, to modelling and warning dissemination with particular emphasis on warnings that can reach stakeholders fast and with the appropriate understanding of uncertainty involved in the whole early warning chain.

(d) Attribute specific budget to cluster activities with projects on related issues.
The call also specifies the need for linking to ongoing relevant research as a means to increase impact. In this respect, PEARL will develop an “interface” with relevant ongoing tsunami work through a set of activities as given in section B1.1. The members of the Project Advisory Group and the international partners e.g. IACHARM will enable direct access to the relevant data and local partners. Joint dissemination activities are planned (see section B3.2). Through the partners’ networks, the consortium will approach the relevant national and EU funded projects (refer to section B1.3, WP8). The project will also build an interface with ongoing work on Earth Observation systems and associated initiatives, through WMO and IWA. Through WMO, PEARL will be linked to the flagship Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) and its outcomes and guidance material will be referenced in APFM activities to increase visibility of PEARL project outputs to other initiatives worldwide. Through IWA, project results will be promoted through specific groups in the IWA network including the IWA Water, Climate and Energy programme and relevant specialist groups such as Marina Outfalls SG, the Hydroinformatics SG and the Urban Drainage SG (specifically the Working group on Source Control for Storm Water Management).

List of Websites:

Related information

Reported by

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top