EurOcean – The European Centre for Information on Marine Sciences and Technology – introduces RISC-KIT project, aimed at increasing coastal resilience to flooding caused by extreme weather events. RISC-KIT project is coordinated by Deltares.
The toolkit will benefit forecasting and civil protection agencies, coastal managers, local government, community members, NGOs, the general public and scientists. The main components include:
- A Coastal Risk Assessment Framework
- An Early Warning and Decision Support System
- A Web-based management guide to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
- A Coastal Risk Database
The EU FP7-funded project RISC-KIT combines physical and socio-economic data in order to create a toolkit to help reduce risk and increase resilience to rare but extreme, hydrometeo (weather) related events that cause flooding in coastal areas.
An overview of recent and historic data regarding extreme weather events demonstrates very vividly the risks faced by coastal areas exposed to flooding. According to the recent joint report of WMO and CRED, in the first decade of the 21st century, the reported flooding events globally were five times higher compared to those reported during the 1970s [source]. These risks will increase in the near future due to climate change and ongoing economic development, creating life threatening conditions for coastal communities, as well as important socio-economic costs.
Examples of the results of extreme weather phenomena in coastal areas:
In order to assist coastal managers and communities to face these challenges, RISC-KIT (Resilience-Increasing Strategies for Coasts – toolKIT) aims to create and provide a set of methods, tools and management approaches for increased coastal resilience, that will be user-friendly, available to everyone and adaptable to any type of coastal zone and coastal hazard.
RISC-KIT is based in two important pillars:
1. The state-of-the-art approach regarding coastal hazards modelling, integrated with
2. The socioeconomic, cultural and political aspects that have a strong influence on the decisions taken to reduce risks, hazards and disasters.
The toolkit will benefit forecasting and civil protection agencies, coastal managers, local government, community members, NGOs, the general public and scientists. The components of the tool-kit are described in the diagram left.
Forecast & Prediction
1. A Coastal Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF), is a quick-scan tool to be applied on a regional scale, which will identify the coastal hotspot areas which are most vulnerable under current and future climatological conditions;
2. An Early Warning and Decision Support System (EWS/DSS), i.e. a high resolution model, that will be able to provide to these hotspots both timely warnings for the hazardous events as well as assistance in deciding the most efficient managing strategy in both technical and socio-economic terms;
3. A web-based management guide that will offer innovative, cost-effective, ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures, including policy development guides, thus enabling the end-users to benefit for the best available solutions for the type of hazard occurring in their area of interest;
4. A Coastal Risk Database of present and historic socio-economic and physical data, which can act as source of information for future implementations.
To ensure adaptability in any coastal zone type, the proposed tool-kit will be tested in 11 Case Study sites with diverse geomorphic settings, land uses, forcing, hazard types and socioeconomic, cultural and environmental characteristics, covering coastal areas on all the European regional seas as well as in one international coastal zone.
Below, three case study sites are briefly presented:
La Faute-sur-Mer, France
La Faute-sur-Mer is located on the Atlantic Coast, in the Bay of Biscay. It is a small touristic village of roughly a 1000 inhabitants during the winter season that nevertheless attracts more than 20000 tourists per day during the summer season. In 2010, the devastating impacts of the surge associated with storm Xynthia, combined with the high spring tide, brought in light the great risk in which the area is under. More than 600 houses and 500 camping lots have been demolished in the evacuated buffer zone. The most pressing issue for the local authorities is that the majority of the population is still located in a hazardous area.
The area of Varna represents a unique combination of low-laying beaches and artificial island, occupied primarily with residential, touristic and industrial activities. Lacking large rivers, flood risk in the area originates mainly from extreme weather events with marine origin. The most hazardous event is a combination of high storm surge and intense wave action on the coast. The ecosystems and their natural buffer role in the storm impact mitigation were significantly compromised due to unclear managerial decisions and illegal construction. Poorly designed and maintained protection structures, which failed to sustain the natural beach resources in a balanced manner, also contributes to the risk vulnerability enhancement.
Sandwip Island, Bangladesh
The international Case Study site of Sandwip Island is located at the north-eastern side of the Bay of Bengal, nearby the main port city of Chittagong. The geographical position, the frequent occurrence of extreme climatological events and the socio-economic regime makes effective coastal flood management an extremely challenging task. In the years 1825, 1876, 1985 and 1991, Sandwip was affected by extreme meteorological events causing severe coastal flooding and leading to immense destruction. During the most damaging storm that affected the island, in 1991, the estimated storm surge height was 6m and the human casualties were 40,000, when 80% of the residential infrastructures were also destroyed. Regardless the immeasurable difficulties, continuous effort for early warnings and for a community-based response framework has significantly reduced the loss of lives in the past decades. Sandwip adds an extra dimension to RISC-KIT due to the characteristics and severity of the disasters, as well as due to the number of human casualties, both uncommon in the European continent.