Coastal Resilience to flooding Impact through relocatable Storm surge forecasting Capability for developing nations (C-RISC)

Lead Research Organisation: National Oceanography Centre
Department Name: Science and Technology


While the marine environment represents a substantial resource for growing coastal communities around the world it also can represent a substantial hazard to the life and livelihood of these communities. An important marine hazard arises from storms and their consequent surges. Surges are large scale increases in sea level resulting from a combination low atmospheric pressure and high winds. They lead to coastal flooding, coastal erosion and salt intrusion. In turn this results in loss of life, destruction of property and degradation of agricultural land. They are a global hazard that particularly impacts low lying coastal communities. In many places these are the poorest and most vulnerable communities. The provision of accurate and timely sea level forecasts can be of substantial benefit to avoiding and mitigating this hazard, by giving advanced warning to the communities and emergency services, in a similar way that weather forecasts provide warning of extreme rain or wind conditions.

In this project we aim to provide a cost effective storm surge forecasts system that can be readily deployed for any coastal region of the world. We build on numerical ocean modelling capability developed in several of NERC project over the last decade. These have included projects focusing on Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry, on Ocean-Shelf transport and also NERC's National Capability Programme in Ocean Modelling. All of these required the development of highly accurate shelf sea models, include relevant physical processes of tides and wind-driven sea level variability.

In this project we will develop the software capability to transfer the modelling approaches in these NERC projects to any sea region in the world and run as a storm surge forecast model, with simplified physics. These will be tested in NW European shelf seas and our demonstrator region in the Western Indian Ocean around Madagascar. To provide a reliable forecast set up we will transfer this system to a cloud computing service. Such services run by, e.g., Microsoft and Amazon, allow a user to rent a computer facility that is maintained 24/7, has a high level of reliability and can be duplicated. Importantly, it can be accessed anywhere in the world, removing the need to remotely setup a system on a partner organisation's computer. Once setup on the cloud service, we will run a trial operational period during the 2018/19 cyclone season to test the system.

Throughout the project we will work with two key stakeholders in Madagascar: the Centre National de Recherches Océanographiques (CNRO) is a public institute focusing on Oceanographic Research, tasked with responding to Government needs in this area and Direction Generale de la Meteorologie (DGM) is the Madagascan Met Office, who provide a cyclone warning service. We will provide a training session on the operational system and adapt to their needs regarding forecast data products and the potential to continue the service beyond the project.

Planned Impact

The target beneficiaries of this work are the coastal communities in low lying areas vulnerable to coastal flooding from storm surges, with consequent loss of life, damage to property and degradation of agricultural land. As well as communities, these hazards also impact industries and the local economy. The target region of the project is Madagascar, but other Western Indian Ocean countries, such as Mozambique and South Africa may also benefit depending on the geographical coverage of the system. The proposed system will be an early warning service delivered by Madagascar's Met Office (up to 5 day forecast). This will allow communities and businesses to prepare for an immanent flooding situation. The system we propose to develop will be readily transferred to other regions in follow on activities, with similar collaboration with local meteorological agencies. This has the potential to substantially expand the impact of the work and the number of beneficiaries (e.g. other future target areas might be Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam).

Other activities also potentially benefit from the information to be developed in this project, specifically port and maritime operations, marine spatial planning and the fishing/aquaculture industry. These sectors benefit from both short term forecasts to help plan operations and longer term statistics (e.g. on sea level) to plan investment and infrastructure developments. Similarly the insurance industry potentially benefits from an improved assessment of risk. The project partner CNRO is seeking to develop these aspects, e.g. for fisheries, through improved access to modelling capability, which this work will facilitate.


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Description This project has developed a prototype 'cloud-based' storm surge forecsast system that is easily deployable in vulnerable regions across the world. Within the project we have worked with the Madagasgar Met Offioce (Direction Generale de la Meteorologie) and Centre National de Recherches Océanographiques to develop this system, which includes a web delivery interface and the capability to manually storm tracks to the forecdast systems. This best suites the in-country forecast approaches. The system is currently being evaluated by DGM.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

Title Relocattable NEMO-surge 
Description Development of a light-weight cloud based operatrional storm storm surge forecast system 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This provides a readily deployable forecast system for coastal flood warning 
Description Stakeholder workshop at DGM in Madagascar 
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 We were hosted by the Madagascan Met Service (DGM) and delivered training for setup and use of a a cloud hosted and locally hosted pre-operational storm surge modelling system, for the whole of Madagascar. We helped them configure the system to deliver current data forecasts (which they did not previously have). We also delivered tidal constituent data for the coastal Met Stations around the island (previously they had tides for only one gauged location). General science skills/python training was given to an assembled group of Madagascan DGM employees + NGOs (~30 people). Specific training for the modelling system was given to targeted DGM research staff.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018