Newton Fund (Invitation Only) Disaster Resilient Cities: Forecasting local climate extremes and physical hazards for Kuala Lumpur

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics

Abstract

Recent natural disasters in Malaysia, such as the wide-spread floods in 2014/15 and the flash flooding of Kuala Lumpur in 2007, have revealed that improvements are required in the prediction of damaging natural hazards and in the capacity to manage the associated risks and consequences.

Appropriate to the theme of 'future cities', the focus of this project is the prediction and management of physical risks relevant to Kuala Lumpur, which is the Malaysian capital and the most populated city in Malaysia with around 8 million inhabitants. The particular hazards to be targetted in this project, that are common in Kuala Lumpur, are floods, landslides, sink holes, strong winds, urban heat and air pollution.

A consortium of 16 research and business partners from the UK and Malaysia has been assembled for this project. The basic strategy is to adapt and combine existing technologies to enhance hazard forecasting ability, and the main objective is to develop a prototype multi-hazard information platform suitable for communicating risks. The primary beneficiaries will be risk managers and decision-makers in Malaysian local government and the insurance sector.

The project objectives relate to the Malaysian Science to Action initiative, which has an aim of mobilising science for societal well-being.

The University of Cambridge (UoC) is the lead UK partner in the project, and its main role is in the meteorological forecasting package. As the UoC Principal Invesigator has particular expertise in urban hazard modelling and has had a leading role in assembling the consortium, UoC will also have a prominent role in the overall management of the whole project.

Within the meteorological workplans, the main task of UoC will be to assess long-range forecast capability for Malaysia and develop data-processing models with specific objectives for hazard risk outlooks. This is timely because the global long-range forecast systems developed by leading weather and climate centres now have demonstrable predictive skill on seasonal timescales, and have spatial resolution sufficient to represent important tropical meteorological processes relevant to the Malaysian sector. UoC will also contribute to the mesoscale weather modelling workpackage led by the Malaysian Meteorological Department.

Benefits of the project will include:

Improved information regarding the risks of occurrence of natural hazards will enable Malaysian local authorities to make better contingency plans to mitigate the effects of such hazards. This will in turn provide economic benefits and improve the quality of life for Malaysian citizens. Improved information about geophysical hazards will also aid the development of insurance services.

The hazard information system developed for Kuala Lumpur will have relevance to cities elsewhere in Malaysia and in the ASEAN region. There is scope for broadening commercial development of such systems, with benefit both to the commercial sector and to the future urban management of cities.

With regard to the UoC long-range meteorology component, the results of the skill investigation will be relevant to the wider seasonal prediction research community, both through the methodology used and as an example of the potential for beneficial application in the Asian region.

Planned Impact

The project will have a wide range of economic, societal and academic impacts.

The main outcome will be a prototype for an operational source of information about multiple physical hazards that may threaten Kuala Lumpur (flash-flood, flood, landslide, sinkholes, heat, air pollution). The immediate beneficiaries will be the contingency planners and decision makers for that major city who will be able to manage better the risks and impacts associated with those hazards. To ensure that such benefits can be realised, these stake-holders will be engaged with the project, through representation on the steering committee and through regular dialogues with the project participants. Through improved planning the economic and societal damage of these physical hazards will be reduced. The methodologies developed in the project (both scientific and in construction of a knowledge dissemination network) will be applicable to other cities in Malaysia and beyond, so these benefits will broaden geographically beyond the lifetime of the project. Expansion of the applications will stimulate commercial exploitation to the benefit of the companies that provide the underlying models, which will in turn underpin investment in further model development to improve accuracy and efficiency.

Improved detailed information about the nature and distribution of the risks associated with the physical hazards will impact the insurance industry by aiding national insurance programmes that are expected to develop in Malaysia over the next several years.

Improved planning will bring social benefits, through improvements in the response of emergency services and through actions to mitigate the severity of damaging physical events.

The deliverables from the project will benefit the research community in several sectors. Results from the multi-scale meteorological modelling component will provide examples and case studies relevant to atmospheric and climate science. Methodologies employed in and data from the mapping and assessment of geophysical hazards will be useful for research in the earth sciences and environmental sciences. Information will be disseminated through publications and through presentations at national and international workshops and conferences.

The main effort by the University of Cambridge in this project regards the evaluation of long-range meteorological predictive skill. The resulting information about performance for the Malaysian sector for a variety of parameters will benefit the continuing development of the comprehensive dynamical models that underly long-range forecasting systems. This will be effected through interaction with the Met Office monthly-to-decadal variability and prediction group.
 
Description For the project as a whole, the main outcome is an innovative platform (website and hardware) that provides detailed geophysical (flood, landslide, sinkhole) and atmospheric (rain, wind, temperature, air quality) hazard information and forecasts for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Other outcomes include extensive knowledge transfer through specialist workshops held in Malaysia; construction of new datasets; the establishment of new collaborations and data exchanges between institutions and countries;
Update March 2021: with regard to the multihazard platform, work has continued by Malaysian and UK partners both to implement use of the MHP at Kuala Lumpur City Hall and to seek opportunities to expand applications of the platform.

The contribution by University of Cambridge has been (a) overall co-ordination of the 16-partner project and leadership of the UK component; (b) scientific advances in developing and assessing long-range (months ahead) rainfall forecasts for Kuala Lumpur. The rainfall forecast work demonstrated the benefits of using remote (tropical Indo-Pacific) as well as local forecast information to increase forecast skill.
Exploitation Route The prototype multihazard platform (MHP) was developed principally for use by Kuala Lumpur City Council, with the purpose of limiting the physical and economic damages caused by the natural hazard events that often affect that large city and its environs. As of March 2020 steps are in progress to implement day-to-day operation of the platform by the City Council. The platform design is such that the system could be adapted for use in other large urban areas in Malaysia and beyond. The platform content can be put to use in further applications, such as urban planning in the short and long term, scenario testing, improvement of insurance services.

With regard to the University of Cambridge long-range forecasting activity, collaboration with the Malaysian Meteorological Department continues. The methodology is being extended to other parts of Malaysia and could be applied in other countries.
Update March 2021: at the request of the Malaysian side, during 2020 the assessment of long-range forecast skill for the Kuala Lumpur region was extended to other regions of peninsular and east Malaysia, using the same assessment methodology and updated prediction and observation datasets. In peninsular Malaysia rainfall forecast skill was comparable to that in Kuala Lumpur, while skill was found to be particularly high in east Malaysia. A detailed report by University of Cambridge on this topic was distributed to Malaysian partners in August 2020.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://ancst.org/nuof
 
Description For the project as a whole, all UK partners contributed to training and workshop activities that have helped raise the level of expertise in atmospheric and geophysical sciences in Malaysia. Collaborative work has enhanced datasets and modelling of the urban environment in Kuala Lumpur. The prototype geophysical and atmospheric hazard platform is now proceeding to an operational phase in 2020, in which the content will aid the management of extreme events, through the issuance of warnings and alerts and the deployment of resources by the Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) Update March 2021: in the past year the relevant Malaysian and UK partners have continued to interact on the practical implementation of the multi-hazard platform at DBKL. Malaysian partners have developed and run training sessions for DBKL employees regarding the content and use of the platform. DBKL has expressed satisfaction with progress.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Global Engagement Award
Amount £2,000 (GBP)
Organisation University College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2019 
End 08/2020
 
Description Modelling the apparent temperature in the tropical city of Kuala Lumpur
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R511638/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 03/2020
 
Description OVERLAND proposal with BGS 
Organisation British Geological Survey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contribution to a proposal submitted to the NERC Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund in December 2020 (but not funded). The lead partner was BGS. This collaboration between BGS and University of Cambridge is a direct result of mutual involvement in the UK/Malaysia project on natural hazards in Kuala Lumpur. UoC contributed expertise regarding the use of precipitation data from climate change scario models on a range of space and time scales as input to estimates of landslide susceptibility.
Collaborator Contribution As well as BGS, other partners were Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Italy) and Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research. BGS initiated and co-ordinated the proposal, which involved research on landslide susceptibility in climate change scenarios. The title was 'Mass movement process evolution and scales transition in upland landslide domains (OVERLAND)'.
Impact In the course of proposal preparation, the partners increased their awareness of the issues regarding uncertainties in future long-term projections of precipitation.
Start Year 2020
 
Description UK PACT proposal with UKM and CERC 
Organisation Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution University of Cambridge contributed to a proposal submitted to PACT (PACT = Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions, funded by UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), with the title: Emissions inventory enhancement and urban concentration scenario modelling for greenhouse gases and air pollutants in the Kuala Lumpur urban environment. University of Cambridge contributed expertise on the new CMIP6 climate simulations and projections to 2100 produced for the next IPCC climate assessment. Under the proposal, scenario data specifically for the Kuala Lumpur region would be prepared, for use by other partners with air quality models.
Collaborator Contribution The lead partner was Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), who co-ordinated the proposal, Other partners were UKM Pakarunding Sdn. Bhd (UKMP), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), CERC (as lead UK partner) and University of Cambridge. Of these, UKM, UKMP, CERC and UoC first began collaboration as part of the UK/Malaysia project on Kuala Lumpur natural hazards, and this proposal was an extension of the methodologies developed as part of that project .
Impact The partners gained expertise regarding new climate change scenarios and the scope for using such data in new air quality investigations.
Start Year 2020
 
Description collaboration with MetMalaysia 
Organisation Malaysia Meteorological Department
Country Malaysia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The University of Cambridge has provided expertise and research on the development of long-range meteorological forecasts for Malaysia, leading to new forecast models.
Collaborator Contribution With regard to University of Cambridge work on the atmospheric hazard section of the project, MetMalaysia has provided weather observation data to help the development of long-range forecasts specific to Malaysia. With regard to other components of the project, MetMalaysia has provided both observational data and weather forecast data
Impact New methodology for the production of long-range rainfall forecasts.
Start Year 2017
 
Description collaboration with UKM/SEADPRI 
Organisation Southeast Asia Disaster Prevention Research Initiative
Country Malaysia 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution With regard to management and co-ordination of the project, University of Cambridge has led the UK partners (UCam, UCL, BGS, CERC, JBA, Cuesta), in close collaboration with UKM/SEADPRI as the Malaysian lead partner.
Collaborator Contribution With regard to management and co-ordination of the project, UKM/SEADPRI has led the Malaysian partners (UKM, UKMP, UMalaya, GMT, PASS, GSM, CoRE, MetMalaysia, JMG, DoE), in close collaboration with University of Cambridge as the UK lead partner.
Impact Management output has been in the form of quarterly meetings and reports, and steering committee meetings and reports.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Invited talk in Hong Kong, 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Urban Environment - Science, Modelling and Policy, Invited by Johnny Chan - City University of Hong Kong, Guy Carpenter Asia-Pacific Climate Impact Centre - for the Urban Meteorology and Climate Conference, 25-26 May 2017 Hong Kong
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited talk in KL Malaysia, 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Urban Micro Climate and Sustainable Building Design, Invited by Prof Joy Pereira for the Disaster Resilient Cities: Risk Assessment and Forecasting Workshop, 10 Mar 2017 Kuala Lumpur
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meteorological Thematic Group Meeting Nov 2017 - Predictability of Extreme Weather Events 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The event was held in 14-15 November 2017 in Kuala Lumpur with participation from governmental bodies, and representatives from industry and academia.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at workshop on City-scale Modelling in the Tropics, Malaysia, July 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop on 'City-scale modelling in the Tropics' was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 3-4 July 2019, as one of the thematic capacity-building events held as part of the Resilient Cities project. Sessions included 'climate and climate change projection', 'high impact weather', 'numerical weather prediction in the tropics', 'meteorological, geophysical and atmospheric hazards'. The participants were mainly scientists with expertise in these fields from SE Asia and Europe. Dr Davey (University of Cambridge) gave a presentation on 'Direct and indirect long-range forecast skill for Kuala Lumpur rainfall'. Representatives from other partners in the Resilient Cities project also contributed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Progress meetings in 2020 re multi-hazard platform 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Two meetings between Malaysian and UK partners, including University of Cambridge, were held to review progress with implementation and expansion of the multi-hazard platform. Various technical issues with the functioning of the platform in use at Kuala Lumpur City Hall were discussed, along with plans to pursue opportunities to promote wider applications of the platform.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Talk at 10th International Conference on Urban Climate/14th Symposium on the Urban Environment, 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Talk at10th International Conference on Urban Climate/14th Symposium on the Urban Environment, titled "Impact of Building Morphology and Material on Urban Climate: A Case Study in Kuala Lumpur"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/meetings-events/ams-meetings/10th-international-conference-on-...
 
Description Urban Meteorology and Climate Conference May 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The Urban Meteorology and Climate Conference was held in Hong Kong in 25-26 May 2017 and hosted by the City University of Hong Kong. The project consortium was represented by one keynote talk titled "Urban Environment - Science, Modelling and Policy" co-authored by Prof Julian Hunt, Dr David Carruthers, Dr Jenny Stocker and Dr Yasemin Didem Aktas. Dr Yasemin D Aktas also gave a talk titled "Local Urban Climate Modelling in Mid-Latitudes" summarising past and future work undertaken as part of the project "Disaster Resilient Cities: Forecasting local climate extremes and physical hazards for Kuala Lumpur".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Visit by Malaysian partners to Cambridge March 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Representatives from three Malaysian project partners (Universti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universti Kebangsaan Malaysia Pakarunding, Malaysia Dept. of Environment) visited the UK 11-15 March 2019 for meetings and discussions with three UK partners (Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC), University of Cambridge, University College London).
On March 11-12 discussions were held at CERC in Cambridge regarding project progress and future activity, with Prof Hunt and Dr Davey participating from University of Cambridge. On March 13 they visited the University of Cambridge. At the Dept. of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) Prof Mohd Talib Latif (UKM) gave a seminar on his work on air quality in Malaysia. Discussions specific to the project took place with Dr Davey, and discussions on air quality research in general also took place with members of DAMTP and the Dept. of Chemistry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Visits by Malaysian partners to Cambridge in July 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Mr Ammar from MetMalaysia (a project partner) visited Cambridge 15-18 July 2019 for discussions with UK project partners regarding project deliverables. He also attended the UK quarterly project meeting held at British Geological Survey and gave a presentation there on weather forecasting and data delivery.

Prof. Pereira from UKM-SEADPRI (a project partner, and Malaysian project leader) and Mr Ammar visited Cambridge on 30 July 2019 for a further meeting with UK partners. Discussions included plans for operationalisation of the multi-hazard platform (the main deliverable) and opportunities for extending the activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop on Disaster Resilient Cities March 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This workshop on Disaster Resilient Cities: Risk, Assessment and Forecasting for Geophysical and Atmospheric Hazards was held in 8-11 March 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, and brought together dozens of representatives from Malaysian governmental departments (e.g. DBKL, MetMalaysia) and politicians, as well as industry and academy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Workshop on Meteorological Forecasting and Hazards Assessment, June 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact With the title 'Disaster Resilient Cities: Advances in Meteorological Forecasting and Hazards Assessment', this workshop took place 28th-29th June 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Participants included regional (SE Asia) and Malaysian experts as well as early career researchers.
The Executive Director (Project Management) of City Hall (DBKL) gave an introductory talk. The UK project leader Julian Hunt (UCam) delivered the keynote address.
Other UK partners in the project from CERC, UCL and JBA also attended gave presentations, as did several of the Malaysian project partners.
The presentations are publicly available from the project website, at http://ancst.org/nuof/downloadables/ .
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://ancst.org/nuof/events/
 
Description Workshop on Research and Practice of Urban Modelling and Field Monitoring in UK and Malaysia, March 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This workshop was a gathering between the Malaysian team leading atmospheric hazards research in our project and research groups at UCL. Various researches on air pollution or indoor/urban overheating from a building and urban design, or health perspectives, were presented in this workshop to address the findings on urban climate related risks and resilient strategies, and strengthen the collaboration between UK and Malaysian Partners. Prof Talib and representatives from DoE, Malaysia, attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop on climate resilience in cities, October 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop 'Building disaster and climate resilience in cities' was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 15-16 October 2019, with around 140 participants. This was the closing event for the Disaster Resilient Cities project. Presenters and participants included experts from Malaysia, UK (project partners), SE Asia and Australia, and included stakeholders (in particular, Kuala Lumpur City Hall) and policy makers and business representatives as well as scientists. The UK project leader (Julian Hunt) provided the opening keynote address. Workshop sessions were wide-ranging: modelling geophysical and atmospheric hazards in cities; pathways for building disaster resilience; disaster resilience of critical infrastructure.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019