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towards geoHazards rEsilient infRastruCtUre under changing cLimatES

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HERCULES (towards geoHazards rEsilient infRastruCtUre under changing cLimatES)

Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2020-02-29

Climate change-induced geohazards are increasing, endangering buildings and infrastructure investments. Damage from climate extremes to critical infrastructure in the transport, energy, industrial and social sector totals €3.4b/year in Europe, which could be six times this value by mid-century and more than 10 times this value by 2100. Moreover, the expected annual exposure to multiple hazards will increase much more sharply than for single hazards. A systems approach is needed to promote better-informed decision-making. This requires a strategy integrating land-use planning, national infrastructure priorities, building design, sustainable natural resource management and effective emergency planning. The aim of HERCULES is a step-change in our predictive capabilities and assessment of climate-induced geohazard risks and to use this understanding to help engineer and fund 21st-century resilient infrastructure. This will result in reduced damage to buildings and infrastructure and the associated disruption to economic activities, and most importantly reduced loss of life. Also, the research will produce a step-change in the way insurers operate in calculating risk: current calculation models assume that risks are incalculable. However, climate change-induced geohazards have a precise physical cause. The current inability to include physicomechanical principles in the calculation of risks has led the insurance industry to rely on black-box risk assessment models, which are uneconomical and do not properly reflect how risky a natural hazard is in comparison with other risks. This will lead to fairer insurance premiums and reduce the use of exclusion clauses, sub-limits, and coverage ceilings by insurers. Through the first 24 months, through staff exchange, knowledge sharing and training, HERCULES is moving towards a better understanding of the physicomechanical causes of climate-induced geohazards, which is pivotal to establishing causal links between hazards and potential losses.
WP1 provides a much-improved understanding of geohazard initiation through remote sensing techniques and terrain measurement technologies. Robust, internally consistent InSAR-derived landslide, debris flow inventory and flood maps are under development with the remote sensing technique. The first day of the summer school in 2018 concentrated on different remote sensing techniques which offered not only to our consortium but also offered to a wider audience. The related research work is well underway especially with industry engagement and support. Staff exchanges and knowledge transfer between industry and academic research institutions, European and third countries have taken place.
WP2: Researchers during their secondments have started to compare the performance of their constitutive models against mutually agreed benchmark tests so that the best models, in terms of simplicity and completeness of the phenomena accounted for, will be identified. Moreover, the WP has exposed researchers from China (ZJU) and Central Asia (NU) to the expertise of world-leading constitutive modellers. On the other hand, the European researchers will benefit from accessing data specific to understudied local soils in different countries.
WP3: The main objectives are: (i) to exchange knowledge on the typical composition of flood defence embankments and earth dams; (ii) to establish a research collaboration concerning predictive modeling of breach development in flood defence embankments and flooding scenarios at the catchment scale; (iii) integrate with WP1 to deliver an enhanced live warning system through integration of forecast system and risk map. A repository for the database (Deliverable 3.1) of case histories of past failures of flood defense embankments and earthen dams are under development. To address the failure mechanism, internal erosion related research works are also under development as part of this WP and also link to WP 2
WP 4: The main objectives are to i) identify benchmark cases and scenarios of typical landslides, avalanches and debris flow size of the volume involved, typical run-out distances, etc; ii) improve the methodologies used in the generation of landslide susceptibility and hazard maps. The topic associated slope stability methods and technology is also under development to feed into the associated failure mechanism models to support more rational risk assessment of mountain and hilly areas prone to landslides. This will enhance our estimate of the destructive power of debris flows and mudflows not just by modelling their propagation after intense rainfall but also with methods and techniques that can be used to reconstruct. A database (Deliverable 4.1) for case histories has been developed and documented. 5 peer-reviewed Q1 research papers are under review or under revision.
WP5: The main objectives are to i) refine current constitutive models of soil behaviour in the light of the experimental data available; ii) investigate the causes of liquefaction; iii) improve the current modelling and monitoring methods for earthquakes. Soil dynamics related research are being carried out through laboratory and field tests to calibrate the proposed model or come up with new constitutive models. All the related work is well under way.
WP6 aims to assess community resilience, understand risk perception, lay knowledge and their potential for integration with expert science in improved local risk communication practice; to characterize communities and their behaviours for geohazards modelljing and to perform the risk assessment. The current progress is focusing on economic and social impact data collection to fully understand the social and economic costs and tailor-made support systems for vulnerable groups. Secondments are taking place towards to achieve the objectives.
WP 7-11: Related to management, training, network. We organised workshops, seminars, summer school etc activities.
The project is currently working to extend cross-disciplinary involvement in the project through interdisciplinary and intersectoral knowledge exchange, by engaging with stakeholders from non-engineering disciplines, industries and the lay public. This has extended from an initial scoping study, to involve a full planned programme of public awareness activities around the geo-hazards posed by a changing climate. To date the research outcomes, e.g. early landslide warning prediction, are helping people in several flooding/landslide prone zones in a few villages to avoid worst-case scenarios. Further impact from our research outcomes includes modelling prediction codes expected to be included in commercial software through our industrial partners.
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