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SYSTEM-RISK Report Summary

Project ID: 676027
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SYSTEM-RISK (A Large-Scale Systems Approach to Flood Risk Assessment and Management)

Reporting period: 2016-01-01 to 2017-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network SYSTEM-RISK ‘A large-scale systems approach to flood risk assessment and management’ is a research and training alliance of 11 international partners and 7 associated partners from science, administration and industry for 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). SYSTEM-RISK is coordinated at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.4 Hydrology.
Floods affect more people worldwide than any other natural hazard, and with more than $ 100 Bn average annual losses, floods are of outmost relevance for society and economy. However, current approaches for assessing large-scale flood risk ignore basic interactions and feedbacks between atmosphere, catchments, river-floodplains and socio-economic systems. To advance this field, SYSTEM-RISK research aims to develop a systems approach considering the complete flood risk chain, the manifold interactions, and temporal changes in flood risk systems, to train ESRs in state-of-the-art methodologies, and to give an integral view on flood risk systems.
SYSTEM-RISK organizes research in three scientific work-packages (WP) with 5 ESR projects each. The scientific WPs are supported by dedicated WPs for training, dissemination, and management.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Technical and soft-skill trainings have been conducted as a series of three one-week events organized by different consortium partners. Two network wide workshops to strengthen linkages and collaboration among ESRs, and to track ESR progress have been held as Kick-off and interim meetings. ESRs have been active in communicating their work in numerous international conferences, outreach events including the EU researchers’ night, and have published first peer reviewed journal articles.

So far, work in the scientifc WPs has been mainly dedicated to compile and analyze data, to set-up and test methods, models and tools, and to review and conceptualize frameworks for the in depth analyses of flood risk components, drivers and actors.
WP1 research is directed at understanding how the interplay between atmospheric and catchment processes influences flooding. Future Weather techniques are used to analyses compound flood events. First statistical analyses for the Rhine catchment show that storm surges at the estuary and river floods are dependent in the tails of the joint distribution with an increasing dependence for lower probability events. Further on, a synthetic data set of spatially coherent discharge peaks for European rivers has been generated as a comprehensive set of scenarios for flood risk assessment at continental scale. Regional attribution of flood regime changes induced e.g. by atmospheric, catchment, and river system processes, using non-stationary flood frequency analysis has been carried out in upper Austria, pointing to catchment processes as the main driver. In terms of flood hazard mapping, a simplified cost-effective GIS method based on floodplain morphology and land-use has been implemented as an automatic methodology. A data and model comparison experiment has been conducted to identify data and model requirements to produce accurate flood maps for complex embankment systems.
WP2 research targets on the understanding of interactions within the river-dike-floodplain system. This includes investigations of hydrodynamic system behavior in terms of possible flood defense failures and its implications on the spatial distribution of risk. Methods to support robust risk management planning under uncertainty using exploratory modeling have been tested indicating that the current approach of flood risk management considers a too narrow decision space and thus may lead to sub-optimal solutions. A European flood model has been set up which is used to conduct long-term flood inundation simulations at continental scale. Further, a review of analytical concepts and methods to capture cascading effects on flood-affected infrastructures during extreme events has been conducted and feeds into the development of an analytical framework to be applied within different case studies of past events.
WP3 aims on analyzing the interactions of socio-economic systems with physical processes and concentrates on the receptor and consequences elements of the risk chain. A framework has been drafted to analyze and evaluate integration across flood risk management actors, interventions, policies and resources along with a characterization of bridging mechanisms and flood risk management interventions. Findings of a desk based research on approaches for the assessment of indirect flood impacts on businesses and supply chains gave understanding of the functioning of business supply chains and (risk) management. This has been transferred to a conceptual framework for modeling indirect flood impacts. Also the average effectiveness of private precaution has been analyzed and quantified on the basis of empirical data from past floods. On this basis, new methods are developed to analyze and account for changes in vulnerability in risk assessment. As a basis for the attribution of changes in flood risk, a sensitivity analysis of flood risk drivers has been conducted. For this purpose, comprehensive change scenarios have been evaluated using a c

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The SYSTEM-RISK research programme encompasses several innovative elements. This includes the broadening of flood research by analyzing the complete risk chain with a focus on large spatial scales, the treatment of the flood risk system as a complex system, and the analyses of the interactions of its components by extending the traditional sequential approach of the flood risk chain to a non-linear approach with interdependent components. Further, this includes probing of how the dynamic nature of flood hazard, exposure and vulnerability influences flood risk systems, investigating the uncertainties and limits of predictability related to the multiple interactions and dynamic nature of risk systems, and analyzing the implications of applying this systems approach to governmental policies and insurance appraisal.
SYSTEM-RISK targets impact on enhancing research- and innovation-related human resources, skills, and working conditions to realize the potential of individuals and to provide new career perspectives. The discussion between the public and private sector, and academia has been stimulated by participating in and organizing special sessions at international conferences. Importantly, a joint opinion paper calling for an ‘Evolutionary leap in large-scale flood risk assessment’ has been publihed to fuel the debate about enhancing the EU policy strategy for flood risk management. This is timely in the lead-up to the next revision of hazard and risk maps and flood risk management plans.

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