Flood Mitigation Project Shortlisted for Award

A research project on mitigating the impacts of the devastating floods has been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2019 in the United Kingdom (UK).

The THE Awards recognize talent, dedication and innovation within the universities sector. This year, the THE Awards are spread across 23 categories and hundreds of entries were received from nearly 80 institutions across the UK.

Reading University Postdoctoral researchers Dr Emerton and Dr Ficchi lead on a project that has been shortlisted for advising the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) on mitigating the impacts of the devastating floods in Mozambique during Cyclone Idai in March 2019.

They provided real-time flood hazard reports by interpreting data from GloFAS, the state of the art Copernicus Emergency Management Service Global Flood Awareness System. This allowed local authorities and humanitarian response teams on the ground to make informed decisions on mobilising and distributing aid to those most in need, and provide emergency shelters. Their strategic support was called on again two days before Cyclone Kenneth hit northern Mozambique just weeks later.

The emergency briefings were provided in close partnership with colleagues at the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) and the University of Bristol.

Dr Ficchi is part of the FATHUM (Forecasts for Anticipatory Humanitarian Action) project, while Dr Emerton is involved with PICSEA (Predicting Impacts of Cyclones in South East Africa).

Both projects are funded by DFID and NERC, and are part of wider University of Reading research on how countries can be more resilient to natural hazards and a changing climate, conducted alongside colleagues across the University including at the Walker Institute.

Dr Ficchi said: “We are delighted that our work has been shortlisted for a THE award. It’s brilliant to see that such collaborative work across research projects, Universities, organisations and countries is being recognised for the positive difference it can make.”

Dr Emerton said: “We are proud to work with a fantastic team of scientists and humanitarians both here in the UK and at our partner organisations around the world, and we are glad that the research we do was able to help in the response to the two devastating cyclones and extensive flooding in southeast Africa earlier this year.”

Copernicus Sentinel-1 maps floods from Idai. Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), Cosmo-SkyMed, processed by GAF AG/e-GEOS/CMEMS