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

Lead Research Organisation: UK Ctr for Ecology & Hydrology fr 011219
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 26/09/2018 30/11/2019 £304,762
NE/S006087/2 Transfer NE/S006087/1 01/12/2019 29/06/2022 £165,234
 
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. This has evolved into supporting ANACIM develop a "Communications Strategy" for dissemination of heavy rainfall and pluvial flood risk warnings. The NFLICS team worked with ANACIM to co-develop a new nowcasting tool that provides probabilistic forecasts of heavy rainfall over the next 6 hours across Senegal and surrounding areas, and forecast pluvial flood risk across the capital, Dakar. During 2020, a new nowcasting tool was delivered to ANACIM (the national Meterological Agency in Senegal) and run operationally 24-7 on forecasters computer systems during the latter half of the rainy season. This was supported by user training sessions that also brought together researchers and nowcasting tools from the GCRF African SWIFT programme. Forecaster feedback has indicated the new tools proved useful during the heavy rainfall and flood events in September 2020. The nowcasting system has undergone further testing and development in 2021 and was used during an intesnive Nowcasting testbed in October 2021 as part of the SWIFT programme. An upgraded (2021) nowcasting algorithm now uses Land Surface Temperature anomalies to modify the forecast probabilities further, and has added skill to the forecasts. Experience and learning from the project in co-developing new nowcasting approaches and tools, and the associated warning communication strategies, is being shared beyond Senegal through close collaboration with the GCRF African SWIFT programme that birings in more countries across Africa. Furthermore, engagement in a number of international events including the UNDRR Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 2019 and Global Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action are extending the outreach further with support from the SHEAR Knowledge Brokers.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description National Capability - International
Amount £115,000 (GBP)
Organisation UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2021 
End 03/2022
 
Description Engagement with GCRF African SWIFT Programme 
Organisation National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The GCRF African SWIFT (Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques) programme is a large £9m project (2017-2021). The GCRF scope overlaps with NFLICS as it includes nowcasting techniques and one of the partner countries is Senegal. However, the nowcasting methods are different and complimentary. In addition, GCRF has a wider forecast lead-time, weather and geographical focus whereas NFLICS is very focussed on the specific issues around heavy rainfall and pluvial flood risk. The NFLICS project team has brought expertise on developing probabilistic nowcasting methods (as opposed to deterministic methods), forecast verification approaches (understanding how well forecasts perform), development of nowcasting tools, satellite data processing, and experience of operation prototype testing in 2020. NFLICS have shared this expertise by contributing to several SWIFT meetings and activities including the last two summer schools. The NFLICS team were involved in planning the SWIFT Testbed 3 which was hosted by ANACIM (Senegal) 2021, building on NFLICS experiences from Summer 2020. Live NFLICS nowcasts products were provided for the Testbed and integrated into the SWIFT data portal. The products were further developed collaboratively during the Testbed with new outputs produced. Collaboration on journal papers, including insights from a nowcasting case study during the SWIFT Testbed.
Collaborator Contribution GCRF African SWIFT have been very supportive to NFLICS and invited NFLICS researchers to engage in various activities, including the planning for SWIFT Testbed 3 in Senegal, October 2021. On a very practical level, the satellite data feed that SWIFT has established has been shared with NFLICS and has saved duplication of effort. The SWIFT team supported NFLICS in delivering training sessions to Senegal forecasters in 2020, and was an opportunity to provide training on a wider set of forecasting tools beyond just NFLICS. Collaboration on journal publications continues.Sharing of expert knowledge on nowasting science and operating satellite data feeds has been invaluable and partners at NCAS are helping UKCEH team plan the installation of our own satellite dish.
Impact Senegal Forecaster Training Journal publications: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2007998117 http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac536d
Start Year 2019
 
Description Engagement with GCRF African SWIFT Programme 
Organisation University of Leeds
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The GCRF African SWIFT (Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques) programme is a large £9m project (2017-2021). The GCRF scope overlaps with NFLICS as it includes nowcasting techniques and one of the partner countries is Senegal. However, the nowcasting methods are different and complimentary. In addition, GCRF has a wider forecast lead-time, weather and geographical focus whereas NFLICS is very focussed on the specific issues around heavy rainfall and pluvial flood risk. The NFLICS project team has brought expertise on developing probabilistic nowcasting methods (as opposed to deterministic methods), forecast verification approaches (understanding how well forecasts perform), development of nowcasting tools, satellite data processing, and experience of operation prototype testing in 2020. NFLICS have shared this expertise by contributing to several SWIFT meetings and activities including the last two summer schools. The NFLICS team were involved in planning the SWIFT Testbed 3 which was hosted by ANACIM (Senegal) 2021, building on NFLICS experiences from Summer 2020. Live NFLICS nowcasts products were provided for the Testbed and integrated into the SWIFT data portal. The products were further developed collaboratively during the Testbed with new outputs produced. Collaboration on journal papers, including insights from a nowcasting case study during the SWIFT Testbed.
Collaborator Contribution GCRF African SWIFT have been very supportive to NFLICS and invited NFLICS researchers to engage in various activities, including the planning for SWIFT Testbed 3 in Senegal, October 2021. On a very practical level, the satellite data feed that SWIFT has established has been shared with NFLICS and has saved duplication of effort. The SWIFT team supported NFLICS in delivering training sessions to Senegal forecasters in 2020, and was an opportunity to provide training on a wider set of forecasting tools beyond just NFLICS. Collaboration on journal publications continues.Sharing of expert knowledge on nowasting science and operating satellite data feeds has been invaluable and partners at NCAS are helping UKCEH team plan the installation of our own satellite dish.
Impact Senegal Forecaster Training Journal publications: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2007998117 http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac536d
Start Year 2019
 
Title Heavy Rainfall and Flood Risk Nowcasting Tool - Prototype Version 2020 
Description Prototype version of new rainfall and flood risk nowcasting tool. Initial application is for rainfall products over parts of West Africa (including Senegal) and flood risk products for Dakar. System is based on real-time satellite data feeds and databases of historical data analysis. There is a back-end data processing component and a front end GUI for visualisation. These are python-based products and can run on Windows of Linux platforms. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact The prototype nowcasting system has been delivered to ANACIM (Senegal Meteorological Agency) and installed on their IT infrastructure. This was available 24-7 during the latter half of the 2020 rainy season and forecasters reported the outputs were useful during heavy rainfall and flooding in September 2020 
 
Title Heavy Rainfall and Flood Risk Nowcasting Tool - Prototype Version 2021 
Description Second version of new rainfall and flood risk nowcasting tool. Initial application is for rainfall products over parts of West Africa (including Senegal) and flood risk products for Dakar. System is based on real-time satellite data feeds and databases of historical data analysis. The second version (2021) now uses Land Surface Temperature anomalies in addition to just Cloud-top Temperature products. There is a back-end data processing component and a front end GUI for visualisation. These are python-based products and can run on Windows of Linux platforms. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact The updated nowcasting system has been delivered to ANACIM (Senegal Meteorological Agency) and installed on their IT infrastructure. This was available 24-7 during the October 2021 Nowcasting Testbed (lead by GCRF African SWIFT). It supported the heavy rainfall alerts being issued for an event that occured during the Testbed, with text messages being sent to ~2m registered users. 
 
Description American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, 1-17 December 2020. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, 1-17 December 2020, is a major international conference. The NFLICS project presented new scientific developments in nowcasting the likelihood of heavy rainfall and flood risk impacts, and the practical nowcasting tool that has co-developed with users. This was part of the session H185 - Hydrometeorologic Extremes: Prediction, Simulation, and Change III. Sharing these with international experts and gaining their feedback has been been beneficial.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm20/meetingapp.cgi/Session/109555
 
Description Forecaster Training 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A new prototype heavy rainfall and flood risk nowcasting tool was delivered to ANACIM (Senegal Meteorological Agency) was delivered in 2020. To accompany this, there was detailed forecaster training on the scientific background to the nowcasting method, its past performance, and on use of the GUI visualisation tool. The GCRF African SWIFT project were invited and gave training on the complementary nowcasting and weather forecasting products available through the SWIFT web-portal. This NFLICS-SWIFT collaboration ensured forecasters recieved a sound appreciation of the latest developments in nowcasting across a range of products.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Global Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The 8th Global Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action was hosted virtually from 8-10 December 2020. This was organised by the German Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Facing a world in crisis, the anticipatory action community recognizes the importance to continue to learn and to grow. The event was aimed at sharing experiences, learnings and challenges under the theme: Collaborating for Climate, COVID-19 and Conflict: Getting Ahead of Crises with Anticipatory Action. The NFLICS project along with others from the SHEAR programme, share learning and promoted discussion within the session "How can research contribute towards the development of protocols for early action?".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://live.anticipation-hub.org/global-dialogue-platform
 
Description International Verification Methods Workshop Online (2020-IVMW-O), 9-20 November 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The International Verification Methods Workshop Online (2020-IVMW-O) was organised by the World Meteorological Organisation under the World Weather Research Programme activity. The performance of forecast systems needs to be "verified" to understand how well they perform and under which circumstances. The NFLICS team explained the novel objective verification approaches that had been used in developing the NFLICS methods and how these have been user focussed where possible. Sharing experience between the leading international experts in this field has furthered the reach of NFLICS methodology and provided constructive feedback on the NFLICS approach.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://jwgfvr.univie.ac.at/
 
Description Megastorm blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Blog by the International Red Cross Climate Centre on "New research could make it easier to predict path of devastating megastorms" highlighting the publication arising from collaboration between NFLICS and GCRF African SWIFT on understanding Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCS) evolution. This also highlighted the new nowcasting tools developed under NFLICS. This was to raise awarenss to the wider community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.climatecentre.org/news/1316/new-research-could-make-it-easier-to-predict-path-of-devasta...
 
Description NFLICS Closing Stakeholder Workshop 
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 Closing NFLICS Stakeholder Workshop, Dakar, Senegal, 2 February 2022. Brought together key agencies involved in flood preparedness and management. Aims of the workshop are listed below.
- Share with stakeholders how NFLICS-supported nowcasting capacities have been integrated within ANACIM forecasting;
- Seek stakeholders' perspectives of the potential value of these nowcasting capacities;
- Engage users' views on how information on immediate flood risks can best be communicated to ensure reach to those people most likely to be directly impacted.

Breakout groups identified key needs for improving and utilising flood risk forecasts. Using a recent flood case study and the NFLICS nowcast products, stakeholder also looked at how the new forecast information can best reach populations most at risk using existing means and what gaps that need to be addressed. ANACIM confirmed they are planning to use the NFLICS products more widely with in their national services and more widely across the West African region through the WMO Reginoal Specialised Meteorological Centre that ANACIM operate.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Stakeholder feedback from NFLICS Closing Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Following the NFLICS Closing Workshop in Dakar, ANACIM canvased the opinion of various stakeholders in Senegal about the benefits and importance of the new nowcasting products developed under NFLICS and their relevance to urban flood management.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M3NT5msjDM