The JRC’s research on floods focuses on improving preparedness and response during a flood crisis, mainly through early warning and monitoring systems, but also through the assessment of mitigation and prevention measures. It has developed several systems to predict and monitor floods at a European and global scale. Furthermore, the JRC’s flood research focuses how future climate may impact flood risk, using high-resolution regional climate information, pan-European hydro-morphological datasets, hydrological modelling and statistical analyses.
European Flood Awareness System
The European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) is designed to produce overviews on ongoing and forecasted floods in Europe up to ten days in advance. It has been developed at the European Commission’s in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre, since 2002 in close collaboration with the national hydrological and meteorological services, the European Civil Protection Mechanism of the Emergency Response Center, and other research institutes. Since 2011, EFAS is part of the Copernicus emergency management service and was transferred to operational service in 2012.
EFAS also represents the first operational hydrological network in Europe.
Global Flood Detection System and the Global Flood Awareness System
The JRC is also developing the Global Flood Detection System (GFDS) and the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS). The GFDS provides up-to-date information on the impact and extent of floods occurring across borders using real-time satellite observations. GloFAS, which is being developed in close collaboration with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), couples weather forecasts with a hydrological model in order to produce real-time global flood forecasts with a lead time of up to 30 days.
The JRC started its research related to flash floods in 2004 with a feasibility study on “Increasing the forecasting lead-time of weather driven flash-floods” (Aquetin et al., 2004).
In the following years, the JRC participated in the FLOODsite project (2005-2009) and IMPRINTS project (2009-2012) with dedicated studies on probabilistic early warning methodologies of flashfloods. This work has resulted in the development of a European flash flood early warning indicator, which is now also incorporated into the operational European Flood Awareness System (EFAS).
LISFLOOD is a geographic information system (GIS)-based hydrological rainfall-runoff-routing model that is capable of simulating the hydrological processes that occur in a catchment area. It can be used in large and transnational catchment areas for a variety of applications, including flood forecasting. It can also be used to assess the effects of river regulation measures, land-use change and climate change.