Global Flood Working Group

Global Flood Working Group

By: Robert Adler

With increasing observation and modelling capacity, scientists are now able to produce relevant information on flood disasters more rapidly and with sufficient accuracy and precision for a variety of humanitarian response tasks.  Several research groups across the world have set-up pre-operational or operational monitoring systems as an outcome of their research.

Since floods are complex phenomena that affect societies in many different ways, there is not one system that can completely meet all flood emergency and flood mitigation information needs.

Some systems forecast flood arrival, but do not map the actual flood extent.  Other systems produce detailed flood maps, but only when there is no cloud cover.   Still other systems provide observations independent of cloud cover, but with low spatial resolution. Mass media and social media also provide information on floods, but not in a consistent and unbiased way.

However, the combined information of all these systems can be used by analysts to create a detailed, comprehensive and rich situational picture before, during and after the floods.  This provides not only better response capabilities, but increased ability to predict, plan for, and respond to future events.

The Global Flood Working Group is an open group of academia, research institutes, practitioners, public and private organizations active in the field of flood risk and emergency management. With annual international workshops, the group’s objective is to advance the state of the art of near-real time global flood information.

The core group consists of organizations interested in bridging the gap between science and operations. This consists mainly of a dialogue between scientists and users whereby (1) scientists are dedicated to adapting scientific systems to the needs of emergency managers and (2) practitioners are willing to adapt and adjust existing emergency workflows to include new systems and data.

The University of Maryland Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) served as the host institute for the Third International Workshop of the Global Flood Working Group in March 2013.