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A PROOF-OF-CONCEPT FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A EUROPEAN COPERNICUS COASTAL FLOOD AWARENESS SYSTEM

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ECFAS (A PROOF-OF-CONCEPT FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A EUROPEAN COPERNICUS COASTAL FLOOD AWARENESS SYSTEM)

Berichtszeitraum: 2021-01-01 bis 2022-12-31

Coastal flooding is becoming one of the most threatening natural hazards in Europe, with 50 million EU citizens living in low-elevation coastal zones at less than 10 m above mean sea level. Today, economic losses are estimated to be Euro 1.4 billion per year. Coastal flood awareness systems exist for some countries in Europe, but very few have flood and impact warning and assessment capabilities. The ECFAS project aimed at contributing to the evolution of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS), by demonstrating the technical and operational feasibility of a European Coastal Flood Awareness System that could be relevant for the enhancement of the Service, capitalising from the CEMS-EFAS framework. While CEMS’ European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) currently includes early warning for riverine and flash floods, it does not yet include a specific coastal marine flood component.
ECFAS contributes to a fully integrated risk cycle monitoring service, through the implementation of an awareness system specifically targeted to coastal areas (preparedness phase) and impact assessment (response phase), playing a fundamental role for the implementation of effective recovery and prevention actions. ECFAS capitalises from the products portfolio of the Copernicus Emergency, Climate Change, Marine and Land Monitoring Services, also using other datasets and information derived from past and ongoing initiatives. Marine forcing forecasts from CMEMS were validated at pan-European level using hindcasting of past events, to reduce uncertainties and provide reliable forcing to compute inland inundation extension, water depth and velocities with the numerical model already implemented in EFAS (LISFLOOD-FP). Impact assessment was carried out considering the existing CEMS framework, producing added value components for the Rapid Mapping and Risk and Recovery Mapping. The feasibility of the products was demonstrated through the implementation of the full operational chain, from the forecasting to the impact assessment and mapping components. The integration of data from different sources required computer resources provided by the Data and Information Access Services (WEKEO DIAS) as core processing and databasing service. Additionally, a standardised methodology to collect, analyse and prioritise the user needs and, successively, identify the service requirements was defined together with an analysis of the legal framework.
ECFAS provides and demonstrates tools, methods, and protocols that relied on input by Services CEMS, CMEMS, C3S and CLMS through the provision of products derived from Sentinel data as well as oceanographic modelling.
ECFAS operated at different levels: a first component (ECFAS-Warning) is related to the improvement of EFAS to build an awareness system for coastal areas, following the framework and technical requirements of EFAS. A second component (ECFAS-Mapping) provides added-value products to improve the Rapid Mapping and Risk and Recovery Mapping of CEMS.
Users’ requirements were identified with a standardised methodology together with an analysis of the relevant legal framework. The result of this activity has informed all the phases of the ECFAS implementation.
To evaluate coastal risk, available datasets of exposure and vulnerability components of the European coastal zone were identified and used. A new algorithm to extract shorelines from Sentinel and Landsat optical images was implemented (SAET - Shoreline Analysis and Extraction Tool). The algorithm was used to integrate new coast-targeted mapping products (i.e. beach erosion impact).
To implement the EWS component of ECFAS, up to 5-day forecasts of Total Water Level (TWL) at the coast are provided daily, including contributions from tides, waves, storm surges and steric sea level effects. Different modelling systems of CMEMS were used to produce TWLs, identifying pan-EU local thresholds to activate the warnings.
The tools and models developed in ECFAS have been largely tested and validated using recent storm events that inundated coastal areas, generating significant impacts. These datasets were used to develop a flood maps catalogue considering different combinations of TWL and storm duration. A new impact assessment method and the related algorithm were implemented, verified and used to produce a companion impact catalogue for assets and population. All the results have been integrated in the ECFAS PoC, an interactive web-based platform.
ECFAS was presented at several events at national and international level and to users belonging to various institutions (public and private) such as the EO Community, including Copernicus EMS users, Research Community, Civil Protection Authorities, Local and Regional Authorities, Managers, Practitioners, SMEs and Industry actors, Decision Makers, International and National Agencies/Organisations and Funding Bodies. Over half of the activities undertaken addressed audiences of at least 200 people, and a few key activities reached extremely large audiences.
The ECFAS project produced many exploitable results for the public and the private sector, namely the ECFAS PoC (the web-platform) and all its components, including the developed algorithms that have a large potential for exploitation and uptake, as it is reflected in the analysis of users’ needs and requirements. The training and research material produced by the project will be used to transfer knowledge into the new generations of technical experts that will occupy key positions in the consultancy and coastal management and risk assessment environments.
The assessment of the impact of future sea-level rise as well as the impact of climatic changes on the society living in coastal zones need access to reliable marine forcing forecasts, accurate flood and impact maps, coastal datasets at a pan-European scale at the highest resolution as possible. ECFAS has developed a PoC that is not yet available in CEMS and it is the first of its kind at the EU level. The progress produced by ECFAS is represented by its pan-EU coverage, providing standardised and validated datasets of flood information (water depth and velocities) and associated impact quantification, TWLs at coastal points along the whole EU coastline, thresholds that can trigger coastal flood mapping, a validated and comprehensive coastal dataset that includes layers for coastal risk management and beyond, downloadable from a single access point, a new tool for shoreline monitoring that can be used and integrated in CEMS to evaluate the erosion risk.
ECFAS aims to support emergency, coastal management and civil protection needs. Europeans are becoming more and more aware of the impacts of climate change in their own lives. Public interest is now, more than ever, focused on civil protection and emergency support, and this is nowhere more important than in the highly populated urban coastal zones. ECFAS meets not only an overwhelming public interest, but also public demand for reliable services in support of protection of humans and their assets. Existing national coastal flood EWSs not only have a limited coverage scope, but mostly do not provide flood and impact warnings and assessments. Therefore, ECFAS and its components address a declared user need, providing supporting information at pan-European level for all phases of the Emergency Management cycle.
Picture taken during the final Workshop of ECFAS for the presentation of the ECFAS platform
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