Brussels, 06 Sep 2004
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) is to gain real-time access to the weather forecasts of the European centre for medium range weather forecasts (ECMWF), following the signing of a cooperation agreement. The data is to be used primarily to develop a system for early flood warnings.
Every year, around 100 European citizens die in floods. Between 1998 and 2002, 100 major floods comprised 43 per cent of all disasters in Europe, caused 700 fatalities, displaced around 500,000 people, and led to at least 25 billion euro in insured economic losses.
The new European Flood Alert System (EFAS) will be able to give flood warnings up to ten days in advance. This will be done using the 'ensemble prediction system' at ECMWF, which supplies 50 different ten-day forecast scenarios twice per day. These can be used to simulate river flow scenarios. Water authorities will then be able to alert those likely to be affected and ensure that procedures and systems for crisis management are in place. Following the Elbe and Danube floods of August 2002, the European Commission and the European Parliament reinforced their support for the development of a flood alert system, which the JRC has been developing since 2000.
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