NEC06809 NFLICS: Nowcasting FLood Impacts of Convective storms in the Sahel

Lead Research Organisation: NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Department Name: Hydro-climate Risks

Abstract

NFLICS (Nowcasting FLood Impacts of Convective storms in the Sahel) replies to the pressing demands of on-the-ground responders and risk groups for advance warnings of heavy rainfall and likely flood impact. In the Sahel, the vast majority of flash floods are due to intense rain within long-lived Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCSs). The most powerful MCS have tripled in frequency over the last 35 years in this region, apparently linked to global warming. This climate change signal has been accompanied by rapid urban expansion in the region, and indicates that the socio-economic impacts of flash flooding are likely to become even more devastating in the coming years. As a consequence, civil protection authorities and on-the-ground responders in the Sahel are demanding improved early warnings of the likelihood of flood impact through proven tools and services from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS). NFLICS will address this need by developing and testing automated approaches for predictions out to 6 hours of intense rain and likely flood impact in Senegal. It will work in partnership by engaging widely to co-develop decision-relevant products and processes for operational services that meet the demands of the user community.

NFLICS will exploit state-of-the-art research findings from satellite analysis that have identified land surface drivers of extreme MCS rainfall, opening up the potential for improved probabilistic nowcasting of intense rain and flooding. Statistical analysis of historical flood events can link these probabilistic nowcasts to likely urban flood damage and thus provide novel forecasts of flood risk, based on recent methods advanced in the UK. Information at shorter timescales has the potential to improve resilience and adaptation planning to extreme rainfall events. The project will be led by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and, for this catalyst grant, Senegal will be the case study country. However, the methods developed will be open, scalable and transferable to other countries in the Sahel and beyond. This will be aided by primarily using Near Real-Time (NRT) satellite data that are readily available to forecasters in African countries. The project plan has been developed in partnership with ANACIM, the national meteorological agency of Senegal, who will also be a key beneficiary of the research outputs and capacity building funded by the work. Knowledge Exchange activities are a key component and stakeholder participation will be led by experts from VNG, CEH and IED-Afrique to ensure user-led design of services by facilitating engagement with users and promoting two-way dialogues. NFLICS will deliver a 2 year programme of activity that will culminate in a real-time trial of the new rainfall and flood risk nowcast products during the 2020 wet season. This will be reviewed by all partners and will inform operational implementation plans. The findings will be widely shared amongst other Sahel countries, and beyond, to promote wider uptake and benefit of the project outputs.

Planned Impact

The impact of NFLICS comes from a significant improvement in the flood risk early warning ability of national agencies. Improved forecast skill at short timescales, available at city and sub-national spatial scales, enables better preparedness to climate-related hazards. The development of this research project was driven through long-standing partnerships that identified the need for improved rainfall and flood nowcasts and greater capacity to predict flood events. NFLICS results will be translatable beyond Senegal to other regions of Africa and the developing world more widely.

In recent decades West Africa has experienced some of the most extreme rainfall variability anywhere in the world with severe impacts resulting from flooding. Climate change and rapid population growth heighten these risks. Better access to reliable, relevant information underpins effective planning towards mitigation and adaptation. However, low confidence in, and use of, climate information partly stems from inadequate communication between climate information providers and users. Supporting the consideration of climate extremes and understanding of forecast uncertainties by decision makers can provide a substantial contribution to strengthening resilience to climate risks.

In Senegal the Civil Protection Directorate is responsible for responding to emergencies, and works with the National Committee for Flood Management to determine the necessary course of action at times of flooding. Both carry out risk planning and work with ANACIM to monitor critical developments during flood events. Predicting the occurrence of intense rainfall is a very challenging problem, hampering flood preparedness activities. Through its public weather service, ANACIM are mandated to deliver forecasts for Senegal and its 14 regions tailored to support key sectors and government departments, including transportation, agriculture, fisheries and disaster preparedness. To rapidly get information to at-risk people, ANACIM delivers SMS warnings and advisories to a network of trained focal points who communicate weather related hazards to local communities. To strengthen this network, we will assess user needs and ensure this informs the technical tasks of NFLICS.

Specific Beneficiaries are:
A. The research community benefits from increased research capability of forecasting in the tropics plus strengthened understanding of the processes for developing decision-relevant climate services.
B. Weather and climate agencies in Senegal benefit directly from the research, training and collaborations. Research capacity and tools will be developed in partnership between the UK and Senegalese partner organisations for use beyond this project.
C. Decision-making organisations will benefit from: i) Improved decision-relevant flood forecasts ii) Strengthened understanding of forecast products, uncertainties and how this information can support enhanced risk management iii) Timely access to flood forecasts.
D. At-risk people and the wider public will benefit from improved forecasts, strengthened risk management systems, and an enhanced communication network involving community representatives. Our 2 communication axes will build on existing networks of ANACIM and EVE for communications to the wider public

Monitoring and Evaluation: The achievement of a marked improvement in flood forecasting ability will be assessed through an M&E process. Early in the project a range of tools will be developed to baseline and track the impact over the course of the programme using a Theory of Change approach.

Measure of Success: specific indicators of impact will be developed using M&E, further measures will be (a) an increase in demand and use of flood information by key decision makers; (b) Strengthened capacity in Senegal for producing flood forecasts short time scales, (c) interest from other operational centres in the region.

Publications

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publication icon
Klein C (2020) Dry soils can intensify mesoscale convective systems. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
NE/S006087/1 27/09/2018 30/11/2019 £304,762
NE/S006087/2 Transfer NE/S006087/1 01/12/2019 31/08/2021 £146,835
 
Description Activities such as the NFLICS Inception Workshop in November 2018 have brought together national and local decision makers involved in managing flood risk in Dakar and other areas of Senegal. This has identified key areas for the NFLICS project to help address such as strenthening the capacities of weather information providers and ensuring more effective communication of flood-risk information in accessible formats. The stakeholder mapping exercise in the workshop highlighted both the capabilities and limitations of the current system. All participants indicated that they would be likely to use the knowledge acquired through the workshop. Immediate benefits have been for operating agencies wanting 'to strengthen the alert system and include actors who do not (currently) receive the information' and local decision makers now being aware of such services and requesting access.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description African SWIFT and Young Earth System Scientists International Summer School on Tropical Meteorology over West and East Africa, 21 July - 2 August 2019, Kumasi, Ghana. 
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 An exciting two-week International Summer School on Tropical Meteorology over West and East Africa took place at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana, to train the next generation of scientists in tropical meteorology and forecasting techniques. The International Summer School was organised by the African Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques (African SWIFT) and the Young Earth System Scientists (YESS) Community. Teaching was carried out by International experts in the field of tropical meteorology, from both academia and operational centres across the world. Daily lectures in African meteorology covered a wide variety of themes, followed by practical sessions and daily weather forecast discussions, giving a hands-on learning experience designed to build technical forecasting skills. Developments and scientific findings from the NFLICS project were presented by team members and several members of the UK and Senegalese team attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://africanswift.org/tropical-meteorology-of-west-and-east-africa-swift-and-yess-international-s...
 
Description Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with key decision makers engaged in Flood Risk Management in Senegal. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A series of Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) were undertaken between with key decision makers engaged in flood risk management for Dakar and Senegal, as well as climate information providers within Agence Nationale de l'Aviation Civile et de la Météorologie (ANACIM). Ten organisations were interviewed by a combined UK (VNG Consulting) and Senegal (ANACIM, GeoRisk Afric) team. The outputs informed the NFLICS project basline assessment against which project progress can be assessed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description NFLICS Inception Workshop. Dakar, Senegal. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A one-day NFLICS inception workshop co-hosted by project partners ANACIM and CEH was held in Dakar in November 2018.

The workshop included a series of brief introductory presentations on the scope and focus of the NFLICS project and the principal concerns of national and local decision makers regarding flood-risk management in Dakar. Participants' experiences and insights were then shared through a series of participatory group activities, including: problem tree analysis and stakeholder mapping. The outputs from these exercises will inform project focus and activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description SHEAR Blog: Georisk reduction: science, resources and governmental action: reflections on the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics 2019 General Assembly 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact An NFLICS researcher provided a blog summary for the SHEAR Programme of experiences in presenting research from the NFLICS project at the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics 2019 General Assembly in Montreal. This is a major international conference only held every 4 years and was a great opportunity for them to discuss the work with a range of scientists from around the world, ranging from students to senior professors and old colleagues to new contacts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description SHEAR Programme Catalyst Grants Kick Off Meeting, 13 November 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact SHEAR Programme Catalyst Grants Kick Off Meeting, 13 November 2018

The meeting brought together the Catalyst Grants recently awarded under the SHEAR programme, along with representatives from the SHEAR Knowledge Broker, the four SHEAR Research Consortia Grants, the SHEAR Studentship Cohort and the SHEAR programme funders to discuss how we can work together to deliver the programme objectives.

The meeting included short presentations from each of the 11 funded Catalyst Grants (including NFLICS), updates from the Research Consortia Grants, SHEAR Knowledge Broker and SHEAR Studentship Cohort as well as briefings on the expectations of the funders of the programme and data management.

Outcomes were improved awareness across the different grants of each others projects and aims of SHEAR programme. Potential areas of common interest and synergy were identified across the projects that could be facilitated through subsequent SHEAR activities and funding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Side Event "Investing in National and Regional Capacities to Support the Resilience of West African Urban Planning to Current and Future Climate-Related Risks: Differing Perspectives and Priorities" at Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva, 13-17 May 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), established by the UN, is a major international event bringing together key DRR practitioners, researchers and stakeholders across the world. A side event was organised by UKCEH in collaboration with many other partners and ongoing projects including NFLICS, AMMA-2050 and African SWIFT (GCRF). A series of interactive and participatory activities were used to engage with the audience.

The side event was organised as West Africa has recently experienced some of the most extreme weather events of anywhere in the world. These events create particular challenges within urban contexts where better access to reliable, relevant information is essential to support effective planning towards preparedness, mitigation and adaptation. It is recognised that low confidence in, and use of, weather/climate information stems from inadequate communication between information providers and users, alongside scientific, technical, governance and resource constraints. The session shared emerging learning from across a range of research initiatives to strengthen understanding and help develop integrated and sustainable approaches to address climate (and weather) related risks across timescales.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.unisdr.org/conference/2019/globalplatform/programme/side-events/view?id=933