Storm Risk Mitigation through Improved Prediction & Impact Modelling

Programme overview

Storms have had an increasing social and economic cost over recent years and are likely to be a main cause of loss of life or assets in the UK over the next few decades.

The Storm Risk Mitigation through Improved Prediction & Impact Modelling programme aimed to improve short and longer term forecasting of storms and their impacts on catchments and coasts. NERC allocated £4·9 million to this programme.

Background & objectives

Storms have had an increasing social and economic cost over recent years and are likely to be a main cause of loss of life or assets in the UK over the next few decades. The negative societal impacts caused by adverse weather are disproportionately influenced by extremes. Furthermore, with climate change, the costs associated with storm impacts are likely to increase.

This has highlighted the need to improve the quality of forecasting of storm track and intensity:

  • in the short-term (0-48 hours) through numerical weather prediction (NWP); and
  • in the long-term (over decades and with evolving climate change) through improved climate prediction.

On both timescales there is a need to improve forecasting of impacts.

Several research gaps were identified with regard to the prediction of mid-latitude storms, particularly extra-tropical cyclones, to inform short-term mitigation strategies against the impacts of hazardous weather such as high winds and heavy rain.

Given the high degree of influence of storms on other natural hazards - such as riverine, groundwater, pluvial and coastal flooding, ground stability (including landslides) and coastal erosion - in addition to their effects on the built environment, ecosystems and agriculture, there is a requirement for improved linkage with impact models to better inform policy and enable preventative measures to minimise risks associated with such storms. There is a need to improve the way in which information flows between numerical weather prediction, climate models and impacts models.

This programme was structured into three interconnected deliverables.

The first deliverable was particularly focused on increasing our understanding of, and capability to predict, structures at the mesoscale in extra-tropical cyclones, to help improve quality of forecasting in the short-term through numerical weather prediction. Cyclones have a major role in producing large rainfall accumulations over short periods (the order of a day), leading to fluvial and some pluvial flooding. They are also central to both direct wind damage and coastal flooding through storm surges and waves.

The second programme deliverable was focused on increasing our understanding of the role of key physical processes within extra-tropical cyclones and how these will be affected by climate change; ie over the long-term. Other storms which also cause serious impacts, such as mesoscale convective systems, are not included in this programme.

The third deliverable from the storms programme focused on determining how to use more effectively the finest resolution achievable from numerical weather predictions (about 1km) in order to deal with impact modelling issues such as downscaling and sensitivity of model outputs for catchment or coastal applications, or both.

The research programme was commissioned within the context of widespread, substantial, and growing international funding for storm research (eg USA, EU countries and Japan), and an essential part of the programme will be engagement with international activities, such as the WMO 'The Observing System Research & Predictability Experiment' (THORPEX) programme.

Programme objective & deliverables

The objective of the programme was to improve short and longer term forecasting of storms and their impacts on catchments and coasts.

This objective aimed to be achieved through three integrated deliverables:

  • Deliverable 1: Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) - increased understanding of, and capability to predict, mesoscale structures in extra-tropical cyclones.
  • Deliverable 2: Climate Science - improved understanding of how climate change and natural variability will affect the generation and evolution of extra-tropical cyclones.
  • Deliverable 3: Impacts - improved ability to use numerical weather predictions and climate model output for storms impact modelling.

Resources

The following documents and links are related to or give more information about this programme.

Implementation plan (PDF, 112KB)

Science plan (PDF, 60KB)