Web-Based Natural Dam-Burst Flood Hazard Assessment and ForeCasting SysTem (WeACT)

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Architecture, Building and Civil Eng

Abstract

Catastrophic floods resulting from the failure of dams that impound glacier lakes are known as glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). A hydrodynamically similar natural hazard is caused by the failure of a river dam that has been formed by a landslide. GLOFs and landslide dam-burst floods, jointly termed natural dam-burst floods (NDBFs), have been recognised as one of the most serious natural hazards in populated mountainous regions across the globe. Of all South Asia countries, Nepal is subject to some of the highest national-level socio-economic impacts from natural dam-burst floods (NDBFs), threatening thousands of people, hundreds of villages and basic infrastructure downstream. Therefore, it is imperative that a national capacity is developed for increasing awareness, early warning, and risk mitigation for NDBFs. Although the Nepalese Government has been actively seeking to reduce and mitigate the NDBF risks, effective early warning and risk mitigation strategies are still lacking across the country. Early warning systems have recently been developed and implemented in various global locations for NDBFs. However, the potential of the latest remote sensing and high-performance flood modelling technologies has yet to be adequately explored and exploited in the existing NDBF monitoring and early warning systems.

In short, there is an urgent societal need to develop reliable NDBF hazard risk assessment, forecasting and warning tools to improve preparedness and build resilience at the community level; and there is a clear research gap in exploiting the latest monitoring and modelling technologies to support practical NDBF risk mitigation applications. To meet the societal need and fill the current research gap, the overarching aim of WeACT is to exploit recent contemporary advances in EO and high-performance dam-break flood modelling to innovate a web-based NDBF hazard assessment and forecasting system to improve community flood preparedness and resilience in Nepal. Although the proposed project has a focus case study in Nepal (the 3,400 km2 Sun Kosi catchment), the developed methods and tools will be transferable to other mountainous countries in South Asia or cross the globe that are suffering from NDBFs.

Planned Impact

WeACT will improve community-level preparedness and resilience to natural dam-burst floods (NDBFs) in Nepal through the development of an innovative web-based hazard assessment and forecasting tool. Impact and knowledge exchange will evolve with the progress of the project. The established researcher-stakeholder-community alliance and representative advisory board (RAB) will play a key role in delivering the project impact. Our in-country partners, ICIMOD and Tribhuvan University, will adopt the research outcomes to support their research. ICIMOD will be able to extend the research impact to other South Asian countries and influence hazard risk mitigation policies through its influential research, training and application programmes.

Who might benefit from this research?
Taking advantages of the recent contemporary advances in earth observation and high-performance flood modelling, WeACT will create a rich source of knowledge products in the form of datasets from different sources (i.e. communities, field survey and earth observation), numerical tools together with the associated modelling outputs, and a web-based NDBF hazard assessment and forecasting tool. The research will have a wide range of beneficiaries including:
- At risk communities in the case study site (i.e. Sun Koshi catchment, Nepal);
- Local/regional stakeholders in disaster risk mitigation (local governments, community leaders, disaster inspectors, NGOs, business people, etc.);
- Stakeholders in risk mitigation/resilience to other forms of hazard in Nepal, with reciprocity of learning to the UK;
- Disaster management organisations in South Asia;
- In-country project partners (i.e. Tribhuvan University and ICIMOD);
- Interdisciplinary researchers in NDBF and other natural hazards research, including community-based hazard management.

How might they benefit from this research?
By establishing a strong researcher-stakeholder-community alliance to promote research co-design and co-development with users, the project will inherently ensure effective dissemination of the project outcomes and deliver impact. Communities and stakeholders will be engaged in all stages of the project to effectively enhance awareness of NDBF risk, create a sense of ownership and encourage uptake of the research outcomes. The web-based hazard assessment and forecasting tool will be housed and operated by local project partners (ICIMOD) and accessed by public users and stakeholders to better prepare indigenous people to face the increasing natural hazard risk, thus improving resilience and sustaining local socio-economic development. The developed models and tools will be readily available and used by local partners to support capacity building. Project workshops will help disseminate research outcomes to other stakeholders (e.g. NGOs, emergency planners, government agencies, etc.) and ICIMOD will transfer and apply the approaches to other South Asia regions, e.g. Bhutan. The project will train researchers and the innovative nature of the work will lead to the publication of high-quality research outputs, benefiting interdisciplinary researchers in NDBF and other natural hazards research and creating academic impact.
 
Description 1. The hydrodynamics of glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs) can be simulated using a computer model and the potential impact of a outburst flood event can be effectively assessed by coupling the simulation results with remote-sensing data.

2. The GLOF simulation results, presenting on maps, provide effective material and have been used in WeACT to support public engagement and participatory mapping.

3. The data collected by multiple GPS receivers on the glacier can effectively analysed to assess to detect the movement of moraine dam up to cm level. This can be further used to identify unstable movement of the dam that can potentially lead to failure.
Exploitation Route The key research findings will be published in academic journals to disseminate to other academic researchers so that they can adopt the approaches in further researchers. The GLOF modelling tool will be used by the local partners, especially ICIMOD, for their future projects. Training courses to apply the model have been planned and will be delivered by Loughborough researchers to help capacity development. The Nepal government, i.e. Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), has expressed interests in adopting HiPIMS to improve their current flood forecasting capability. They will be invited to attend the training course and an MoU is currently being explored between DHM and our local partner Tribhuvan University to strengthen the collaboration.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport,Other

 
Description One of the most important objectives of WeACT is to improve risk awareness of and communication with communities to enhance their resilience to glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs). The project has used the latest high-performance flood modelling tool to simulate the detailed hydrodynamics of possible GLOF scenarios and their potential impacts. The simulation results, in terms of flood inundation and risk maps as well as detailed statistics on the impacted population, houses, farm lands and infrastructure, have been used to support community engagement activities including participatory mapping. This has effectively improved the community's awareness of risk. According to the report/feedback provided by the attendees of the engagement event and workshop, people's view on GLOF risk has changed. Nepal government, DHM, attended the community engagement workshop took place in November 2019 and was impressed by the research outputs. A meeting was subsequently arranged in DHM with the Director General attending the discussion. DHM was interested in the flood modelling and remote sensing technologies developed in this project and pathways to uptake some of the outputs are currently being explored.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy
Impact Types Societal

 
Title GLOF risk assessment and management tools 
Description The checklist consisted questions on bio-physical condition, past hazard events, losses and impacts from GLOF in the past and exposure to the risk of GLOF in the future. Vulnerability and capacity included institutional arrangement to deal with the risk of GLOF. It also included the strategies and activities carried out in the past for GLOF risk reduction and appropriate measures necessary to implement in the future 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Visual and statistical tables were very much valuable to communicate the results of the research. 
 
Title Long-term high-precision GPS monitoring of the end moraine subsidence at Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake Nepal 
Description Data is taken from 3 GPS receivers. All data is stored and then post processed. The GPS data was processed as individual precise point positioning solutions as well as using double differencing to monitor the receiver position over time. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact GPS data was collected by three receivers on the glacier. One receiver was positioned on stable ground and the other two on the potentially moving end moraine. The position of the receivers was computed using a variety of techniques to assess if the moraine was moving and if so by how much. Using these technologies, it is possible to detect movements down to cm level and then inform the downstream peopla of the potential risk. 
 
Title A high-performance flood modelling strategy for Natural dam-burst floods (NDBF) 
Description The full 2D High-Performance Integrated hydrodynamic Modelling System (HiPIMS) has been developed to simulate GLOFs using DEMs from different open sources to produce hazard maps for different dam-break scenarios. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact With the land-use maps embedded with community information and infrastructures, detailed impact of GLOFs on communities, infrastructures and agricultural production can be evaluated. The impact information has been displyed online to communicate risk to communities and improve their understanding and awareness of risk. 
 
Title Database on Tshop Rolpa glacial lake field data 
Description Database includes field data of the Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake such as high resolution DEM and orthoimages (from UAV), topographic survey from dGPS, GPR data of end moraine and GPS node data. It will also include socio-economic data to demonstrate hazard level. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet. 
 
Title GLOF risk assessment and management database 
Description Socio-economic database from field survey, hazard chronology, community based GLOF risk maps 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The data are very much useful for developing strategies and activities for the reduction of GLOF risk. Local government can also use the data in their DRM planning. 
 
Title Long-term high-precision GPS observations at Tso Rolpa 
Description GPS observations are currently being collected at Tso Rolpa since May 2019 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet. 
 
Title Natural dam-burst floods (NDBF) hazard maps of different dam-break scenarios for Tshop Rolpa glacial lake 
Description Natural dam-burst floods (NDBF) hazard maps of different dam-break scenarios (breach width and depth) for the Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake have been created using the developed modelling strategy. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The resultant flood maps have been used to analyse detailed impact of these NDBFs on local communities and key infrastructure systems. The flood hazard maps and impact information have become a core component of the web-based susceptibility tool developed for stakeholders using. 
 
Description Collaboration with Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), Nepal 
Organisation Government of Nepal
Department Department of Hydrology and Meteorology,
Country Nepal 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The research team of WeACT gave speeches, and helped train staff members and assist in model development as capacity building.
Collaborator Contribution Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), Nepal helped to examine getting lake levels for the GLOF site (from other existing project).
Impact Not yet.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Field Investigation Support from Kathmandu University, Nepal 
Organisation Kathmandu University
Country Nepal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Through this partnership ICIMOD will collaborate on joint paper with Kathmandu University.
Collaborator Contribution Kathmandu University provided field equipment such as GPR, dGPS and provided in-kind support to collect field field data, processing and analysis.
Impact Field report (completed) and data analysis (on-going).
Start Year 2019
 
Title High-performance integrated hydrodynamic modelling system for GLOFs and impact 
Description The High-Performance Integrated hydrodynamic Modelling System (HiPIMS) has been extended and tested for simulating GLOFs and assessing their impact by coupling with remote sensing data. HiPIMS solves the fully dynamic shallow water equations using a finite volume shock-capturing numerical methods and has been implemented on GPUs to achieve high-performance computing. HiPIMS has been used in WeACT to simulate a series of GLOF scenarios for Tsho Rolpa Glacier Lake and assess their potential impact to inform community engagement and also provide results to develop the proposed web-based warning tool. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact No actual impacts have been achieved yet. But the tool and the results were presented to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), Nepal; and DHM has since expressed strong interests in the tool and further collaboration with the team. 
URL https://github.com/lukessmith/hipims-ocl
 
Title Web Tool on Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake for possible Breach Scenario 
Description Breach scenarios of the Tsho Rolpa glacial lake will show possible affected area in the downstream. This web tool was developed to disseminate risk information to the stakeholder including public and policy makers. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2020 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Not yet. 
 
Description Engagement with different communities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Local community members were first briefed about the research and asked them about the GLOF, potential risk, vulnerability situation, potential loss and damage under different breach scenarios. Local people happily participated community in vulnerability mapping and provided potential socio-economic losses and damage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Stakeholder Engagement and Dissemination Workshop of the Web-Based Natural Dam-Burst Flood Hazard Assessment and ForeCasting SysTem (WeACT) project 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact About 90 people participated in the workshop. The team leader (PI) briefly introduced the project and its intended outcome. All together there were nine presentations on various aspects of the research. It also presented the community based GLOF hazard map. The workshop brought together different research institutions/stakeholders working on Tsho Rolpa GLOF. Local people who were sceptical about the Tsho Rolpa GLOF have now realized the potential threat and requested for mitigation measures to the policy makers and local government. Local government has also realized the importance of the research and asked to cover the whole downstream areas. The local community of the upstream, midstream and lower mid-stream worked on potential threat, possible measures and role of different institutions for mitigation. Importantly, local community said that they also learned many things about the GLOF hazard and about the lake situation from the scientists. The national level media has well covered the workshop news. The Gorkhapata, a national daily, published the workshop news on October 20. The event was also well covered by the Rising Nepal, national daily newspaper in English language.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://risingnepaldaily.com/nation/report-on-tsho-rolpa-glacial-lake-published  http://www.therisin...