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Next-generation software system for flood warning and risk analysis to be developed

This release is available in Chinese.

Flooding is a wide spread and devastating natural disaster across the globe. It is the worst natural disaster in the UK, causing annual damage of about 1.5 billion. The figure is expected to increase to 3.5 billion over the next few years (Association of British Insurers). Floods that took place in China over the past decade were ranked the worst among recorded floods worldwide in terms of human fatalities and economic losses (Munich Re-Insurance). Against this background, the establishment of effective flood forecasting and risk analysis systems has become a priority in many flood prone countries.

The project at King's College London is led by Dr Hannah Cloke and Dr Yi He from the Department of Geography. Hannah Cloke says: "The new system will satisfy many unmet technological demands in the field of flood prediction and risk analysis, and will bring significant benefits and commercial value to the private and public sector in addition to the many lives we hope it will save! We have already received significant interest from industries and governments, and are excited to take the project to the next level with the development of a commercial prototype."

While several software systems have been commercialized with significant market success, they often fail to (1) incorporate multiple weather forecasts and post-forecast data processing into one system to achieve reliable flood warning, (2) assess uncertainty and risk of an ensemble forecasts and (3) provide Application Programming Interface (API) Web services with interactive flood risk mapping.

The feasibility and commercial promise of the software has already been demonstrated successfully in the Upper Severn Catchment in the UK and subsequently in the Upper Huai Catchment in China. These tests were supported by the Natural Environment Research Council and a Partnership Award from Innovation China-UK (ICUK), which was facilitated by King's College London Business. A recently granted Proof of Concept award from ICUK will take the development work to the next stage, supporting the translation of the 'Novel Flood Early Warning System' from a research prototype into a commercial system.

Prof. Zhijia Li, who leads the research at Hohai University, adds: "ICUK has provided us with an excellent opportunity for King's and Hohai to form a synergetic collaboration that allows both sides to reinforce their core expertise. As climate change is expected to herald in a new wave of extreme floods, we are beginning to see emphasis on effective flood forecasting with quantifiable uncertainties and minimum tolerance for error. NEWS comes at the right time for the good of citizens in China and the UK."

Potential end-users include insurance companies (using flood risk maps to estimate loss values and calculate premium to be allocated to specific regions), engineering consulting firms (to provide sound climate-proof design for flood defences and other hydraulic structures), research and educational institutions as well as government authorities.


Contact: Melanie Haberstroh
King's College London

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