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The Fight Against Natural & Technological Hazards


The Fight Against Natural & Technological Hazards

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									          The Fight Against Natural & Technological Hazards
                         (Generic Activity 1)
                        Hydrogeological Risks
                                   Anver Ghazi
                    Head of Unit Biodiversity & Global Change
                      DG Research, European Commission

In the MITCH workshop we are dealing with the struggle with research which we
have been engaged with in the area of natural and technological hazards. The struggle
with and the output from the research has lead to input into important policy. The
research has been transmitted to the Director General of Environment, Director
General of Agriculture and the Director General of Regional Policy. The struggle
continues through into the 6th Framework Programme.

The structure of the 5th Framework Programme includes themes in the area of
Environment and Sustainable Development. The four key actions are:
       • Sustainable management and quality of water
       • Global change, climate and biodiversity
       • Sustainable marine ecosystems
       • The city of tomorrow and cultural heritage

The first key action includes a component of flood forecasting, as seen in MITCH.
MITCH also plays an important role as far as key action 2 with certain aspects within
MITCH dealing with flooding and extreme events. At the recent Marrakech
conference on climate there was a great deal of discussion on changing climate taking
the assessment report from the IPCC. There is a need to link natural hazards with
climate change and the development of economies and sustainable development. The
MITCH concerted action is playing a role in contributing to the generic activities of
fighting against major natural and technological hazards.

An open call for “Natural and Technological hazards” activity on 15th October 2001
generated a very high response with over 15 proposals currently being considered.
The objectives for the call were as follows:
1. To develop methods and technologies (including EO & DSS) for:
               • environmental, social & economic impact and risk assessment,
               • risk management and disaster preparedness,
               • hazard forecasting & monitoring,
               • prevention, evaluation & mitigation
               • risk perception, communication and awareness.

2. To promote strategies with a view of providing input to EU policies (i.e. civil
   protection) and relevant legislation

In the risk management area, policy makers are very interested in the impact on
different regions, particularly in the Mediterranean region. This theme will continue
into the 6th framework programme. On the hazard forecasting side, a major initiative
is the Global Monitoring Environment Security (GMES) which is an initiative by the
European Space Agencies and will be heavily financed in the 6th Framework

Particular attention should be paid to aspects of end-user/stakeholder-driven, problem-
solving and policy-relevant research. The issue of public awareness is very important
if the research is have an impact.

In the last four to five years the message has been delivered to the EU Ministers of
Science that the objectives defined here have, to an extent, been exploited as far as the
research projects are concerned. The research projects have promoted strategies and
influenced civil protection policies.

Natural hazards have a very broad spectrum:
    • Seismic Risks
    • Floods & Hydrogeological Risks
    • Volcanic Risks
    • Forest Fires
We can look at climate change’s influence on any ones of these risks. If we take forest
fires for example, the El Nino phenomenon was considered to have an impact in the
Indonesian forest fires. Also recent research suggests that the El Nino phenomenon is
potentially having an impact on the European climate, such as the floods in Germany
and Poland in 1997 and 1998. This is obviously something, which we need to look at
in a multi-disciplinary context.
There has been a development of new & improved methodologies to:
    • increase understanding of mechanisms & processes
    • allow integrated studies of the occurrence of extreme flood events
    • link meteorological and hydrological events & climatic forcing
    • assess, manage & mitigate risks resulting from floods, landslide, avalanches
        and large storms
    • examine relations with land-use & land-cover in different regions

The call on 15th October created a big response in Concerted Actions (CA) which are
gaining importance including accompanying measures
                   • diffusion/dissemination
                   • conferences, workshops, courses
                   • expert groups
                   • publications
Next year, in February and April 2002, there will be funding opportunities, for such
accompanying measures, in the area of flooding and hydrological risks.

The projects in the 4th framework programme have been extremely important in
developing the 6th framework programme. For example RIBAMOD has given rise to
other projects including MITCH. The fourth framework projects, relevant to natural
hazards include:
Flood risk reduction by space borne recognition of indicators & excess
runoff generating areas
flood risk information management service
Forecasting floods in urban areas of steep catchments
Advanced radar technology for application to hydrometeorology
Heavy precipitation in the alpine regions
Methodology for flood awareness & for mitigation measures
CA on river basin modelling, management & flood mitigation
CA on dam-break modeling
Dynamics of sediments in Alpine catchments- processes & prediction
Satellite & radar techniques in meteo forecasting for flood events
Flash flood risk assessment under impact of landuse change &
river engineering works
Runoff & atmospheric processes for flood hazard forecasting & control
European river flood occurrence & total risk assessment system
Active on-line hydrological & meteo models to minimize the impact
of flooding

For the 5th Framework programme there were major changes in the key actions and
generic activities. The major projects include MITCH which is a Concerted Action
dealing with the mitigation of natural hazards with a meteorological cause, in order to
assist planning and management. The main focus is on flood forecasting and warning,
but it also includes other flood related hazards, such as landslips and debris flow,
longer term climate hazards such as drought, and the possible impact of climate
change on the frequency and magnitude of hazards. This project is seen as the type of
activity, which will be promoted in the future. The activities which can be foreseen
are a cluster of projects in the area of floods. A new concept in the 6th Framework
Programme is a European Research Area. In this key action, MITCH is a particularly
good example of developing the challenge of a European Research Area, which will
be met at a European level.

The other projects in the FP5 are as follows:
A European Flood Forecasting System
EFFS will develop a prototype of a European flood forecasting system for 4-10 days
in advance, which could provide daily information on potential floods for large rivers,
and flash floods in small basins.
Systematic, Palaeoflood and Historical data for the improvement Flood Risk
Estimation. Sphere will develop a new approach which complements hydrologic
modelling and the application of historical and plaeoflood hydrology to increase the
temporal framework of the largest floods over time spans from decades to millennia;
in order to improve extreme flood occurrences.
Torrent Hazard Control in the European Alps. Tharmit will develop practical tools
and methodologies for hazard assessment, prevention and mitigation, and to devise
methods for saving and monitoring potentially dangerous areas.
Survey and Prevention of Extreme Glaciological Hazards European Mountainous
Regions. GLACIORISK will develop scientific studies for detection, survey and
prevention of glacial disasters in order to save lives and reduce damages.

European research has been funded over the last 20 years. However we put less
funding into research than Japan or the US. With 11 European countries all
undertaking fragmented research, the challenge to the ERA is how to co-ordinate this
research in order to develop a coherent and holistic picture with which to shape
European policy

A study undertaken for the European Parliament looked at the fragmented approach in
Europe. The results of the study supported the existing scientific industry in the
member states plus the newly associated states. The report identified that the best
way would be to couple the national programmes of the EU countries and the
European organizations on one side and then for the EC to support overarching
framework programmes on the other

This is the challenge we are facing and a European research team can only be
developed when we have:
   • a networking of different sectors of excellence/competence
   • a virtual picture of European laboratory in different countries
   • infrastructure support
   • co-ordination of national and European research programmes
   • provide mobility for researchers
   • coherent/cohesive activities
   • attraction for researchers from other parts of the world.

The proposed 6th Framework Programme 2002-2006 has a budget of 17.5 million
Euros, this is:
   • 17% increase from FP5
   • 4% of total EC budget

The focus of FP6 is on seven priorities. These include sustainable development and
global change. This priority will address the impacts and mechanisms of greenhouse
gases, the hydrological cycle, biodiversity, and global climate change. If MITCH
continues, the Concerted Action can be targeted in these areas. The instruments to
implement these activities and priorities will be networks of excellence and new
concepts of integrated projects.
In FP6 there will be move towards large projects of the order of 40 to 50 million
euros. This is a different approach to FP5. The EC participation in jointly
implemented national programmes considered in Article 169 is being hotly debated at
the moment. The result is likely to be that some items in the environment research
area will be considered under article 169 but some will not.

The recent meeting of council of ministers has, agreed on a budget for individual
priority areas of the FP6:
    • global change and ecosystem            700M Euros
    • Sustainable surface transport          610M Euros
    • Energy Systems                         810M Euros

This is one of the successes in the area of global change and ecosystems, as the budget
has increased and there is lots of competition.

The enhanced budget and increasing levels of competition for research in the GC &E
priority area will pave the way for many high quality and successful projects.

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