The completion and testing of a Aftershock Forecasting Tool for Emergency Response (AFTER)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Ulster
Department Name: Sch of Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Science cannot predict where, when and what size the next earthquake will be but the University of Ulster Geophysics group have, with Concern Worldwide, an active NGO partner, co-produced approaches that promise to give useful, near real-time probabilistic forecasts of the intensity and spatial distribution of aftershocks. Such a tool could be used by the wider humanitarian and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) communities, to guide decisions on prioritising humanitarian response activities, (such as where to site displacement camps and offices and accommodation for staff) and well as improve advice and awareness of survivors. The University of Ulster Geophysics Group in partnership with Concern Worldwide delivered a NERC PURE Associates (NPA) project that: 1. Developed prototype software tools to make a near real-time assessment of aftershock hazard during the emergency response phase of earthquake disaster. 2. Used this tool to explore: a. the scientifically answerable questions of use to humanitarian organisations b. The training and support needs of the humanitarian practitioners c. The protocols that could guide tool use within emergency planning and response processes d. The most appropriate user interface and ways of communicating risk and uncertainty.

To move from a theoretical, to a real working approach that will guide humanitarian decision making in life and death situations, four things MUST be done: 1. Appropriate statistical tools developed, and used to rigorously test the approach over an extended period of time 2. Tool validity must be guaranteed through intensive peer review by a panel of leading international scientists 3. A strategy developed to deliver wider 'buy-in' by humanitarian and government actors and the mainstreaming of the approach 4. Continue to develop the approach in response to the particular needs of the humanitarian sector identified in the NPA project. To address these issues we here propose the Aftershock Forecasting Tool for Emergency Response (AFTER) project.

In AFTER we will develop the ideas in the original projects to full proof of concept status including the production of a research grade programme which is specifically taylored with both the limitation so of the science and the operational needs of the user in focus. During the project we will have the science, the protocols through which it is applied and the contexts in which we ensure accurate understandings of the uncertainties which form a central part of any earthquake forecasting scheme as well as the humaitarian utility, examined by an international expert panel convened regularly throughout the project. We will also work to mainstream this protocol to the wider humaitarian community. We have already several expressions of interest from important players in the humanitarian field.

The project will have a significant impact on Humanitarian and DRR policy and operations in post earthquake situations. It will introduce a new area of evidence-based decision making into existing emergency planning and response and DRR interventions. It will create a new tool to be incorporated in holistic hazard and vulnerability analysis, management and planning. It will inform life and death decisions, and make a real contribution to the core humanitarian aims to save lives and alleviate suffering.

Publications

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Jiménez A (2015) Information theory approach to the Landers aftershock sequence in EPL (Europhysics Letters)

 
Description The results of research on this project have clearly shown that, particularly in developing countries where earthquake catalogues are complete only to relatively high magnitudes, it is still possible to make robust, near real-time forecasts of after-shock size. It is however vital that arrangements were made for the systematic recording of small magnitude earthquakes following large destructive events so that size and location of after-shocks might be of a ballistic before cast.
Exploitation Route It is absolutely clear that after-shock forecasts are of great benefit to emergency services in the weeks and months following a major destructive earthquake. We are in the process of constructing another proposal which will ensure the systematic application of the science developed in this project worldwide.
Sectors Education,Environment,Other

URL http://odihpn.org/blog/integrating-aftershock-forecasting-into-humanitarian-decision-making-lessons-from-the-april-2015-nepal-earthquake/
 
Description The techniques and protocols developed within this project were used to advise the UK government SAGE committee and Concern Worldwide staff working in the field following their April 2015 Nepal earthquake.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Education,Environment,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Concern
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact This interaction has formalised the uptake of after-shock forecasts my the Cabinet office Scientific Advice for Government in Emergencies.
 
Description Meeting with AFAD, Ankara, Turkey
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact AFAD have agreed to begin to integrate results of AFTER and RAFT projects into their disaster emergency response management system
 
Description SAGE
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Concern Worldwide now integrate after-shock forecasts into their standard operating procedures following all major earthquakes.
 
Description GCRF, Research for Emergency Aftershock Response (GCRF-REAR)
Amount £160,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/P015840/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2016 
End 11/2017
 
Description Formal interaction with AFAD, Turkey 
Organisation Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency
PI Contribution Detailed presentation for two days of the AFTER and RAFT projects.
Collaborator Contribution 20 senior AFAD staff attended a two-day workshop.
Impact Partnership with National Disaster Management Agency
Start Year 2017
 
Description Concern training 2015 
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 Carried out preliminary training course with Concern Worldwide disaster response unit so that they would understand forecasts of after-shocks made as part of NERC funded work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Concern training 2016 
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 Completed advanced training for Concern Worldwide on understanding and utilising after-shock forecasts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at the UNISDR Global Platform Cancun, Mexico 
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 McCloskey traveled to Cancun Mexico as a guest of UNESCO and delivered a keynote address, at the UN ISDR Global Platform to describe the results of the AFTER project. The audience consisted of international leaders from disaster management organisations and NGOs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation to UNESCO, Paris 
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 A group of scientists from the University of Edinburgh (Schools of Geosciences, History, Languages and Archaeology, and Informatics), and Leeds Beckett University visited UNESCO headquarters in Paris to discuss the potential for UNESCO to contribute to the globalisation of our aftershock forecasting protocols. Our dialogue with UNESCO continues and McCloskey is now on the steering group for an international meeting to be held in Japan in autumn 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Publication in Humanitarian Exchange 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact We published a report on our work during the Nepal aftershock sequence in Humanitarian Exchange - an 'industry' online journal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://odihpn.org/blog/integrating-aftershock-forecasting-into-humanitarian-decision-making-lessons-...
 
Description RTE radio 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Join the panel discussion on lessons learned since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Radio 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Give radio interview on the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami and ongoing work on after-shock forecasting with Concern Worldwide.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description SAGE 
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 Supplied advice to government and to a major international NGO during the Nepal after-shock sequence
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015