Early warning of flash flood and landslide risk in S Asia.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Geography and Environmental Sciences


Flooding from intense rainfall regularly affects several thousands of people across SE Asia. In August 2017 at least 175 people died, and thousands fled their homes as floods swept across Nepal, India and Bangladesh. These devastating floods are often accompanied by destructive landslides which adds to the loss of lives and livelihoods. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is developing a flash flood forecasting system as part of the Global Flood Awareness System, which uses global ensemble numerical weather forecasts to provide early warning of intense rainfall.

This project will benefit from support from both flooding and landslide experts from the SHEAR consortium of projects, meteorological experts from ECMWF and the Met Office as well as working alongside partners in India and Nepal, for example the Medium term forecasting centre in India and Practical Action in Nepal.

The PhD student will:
- Develop and evaluate long term datasets of flash flood indices such as those based on the Extreme Forecast Index from ensemble reforecasts and new reanalysis products such as ERA5 held at ECMWF.
- Evaluate the potential skill of the flash flood forecasts using these long term datasets and flow archives held by authorities in India/Nepal and remotely sensed data sources (where available)
- Identify coincidence and timings of flash floods and landslides, and the factors influencing predictability in selected study areas.
- Develop post-processing tools to improve communication of landslide risk from flash flooding, which can be adopted by project partners in India/Nepal.

The student will undertake a series of UK and overseas placements in the partner organisations, including a period working with ECMWF on the flash flood forecasting, with the BGS and Met Office on landsliding, and 2 overseas placement periods with partners in India/Nepal including Practical Action and the Medium Term Forecasting Centre in India.


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Description European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts 
Organisation European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting ECMWF
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I have been using one of ECMWF's global forecasting tools in my research, to evaluate the skill in forecasting landslides in my study area.
Collaborator Contribution The ECMWF has allowed me to visit their facility regularly for training and data collection/analysis.
Impact Not applicable yet.
Start Year 2018
Description Radio Interview: Cyclone Fani 
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 I was invited onto a live radio interview to discuss the current flooding and landslides in India due to Cyclone Fani. This was on BBC Radio Cumbria - a region with historical flooding itself.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019