WEkEO to support a European Coastal Flood Awareness System, a proof-of-concept

April 6, 2023

_WEkEO infrastructure is hosting the European Coastal Flood Awareness System (ECFAS), a proof-of-concept for the implementation of an EU coastal flood awareness system

The ECFAS proof of concept was developed in an eponymous EU research project (H2020 programme) and is a candidate for integration in the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) to become an operational service.

Trends related to climate change such as sea level rise and the warming of oceans are impacting the health of our shores and putting coastal communities and infrastructures at risk. Flood risks are becoming ever more present as sea level rise is increasing the frequency at which extreme water levels are reached, particularly during storms. Coastal areas are vulnerable environments that are often highly populated and over-exploited. Moreover, they are exposed to different hazards such as marine storms that can affect the coast with flooding and erosion.

Currently, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) provides early warning products related to river flood and runoff flooding, such as the Global Flood Awareness System (GLOFAS) and European Flood Awareness System (EFAS). ECFAS would complement the existing services for river flood by providing the marine induced coastal flooding.

ECFAS aims to bridge the gap and provide awareness products on European coasts; it will harness the power of Artificial Intelligence and new scientific methods, and leverage Copernicus Services. For instance in ECFAS, forecasts of total water level at coasts are extracted from the Copernicus Marine Service regional ocean and wave forecasts. Should a European coastal flood awareness service be implemented beyond a proof-of-concept, a dedicated service-to-service line could be setup for the Copernicus Marine Service to provide CEMS with forecasts of total water levels at the coast.

ECFAS centralises and integrates coastal information that could facilitate flood forecasting, management, and recovery tools for the European coastal zones; it already includes more than 20 test cases from around Europe.

ECFAS products: an overview (in proof-of-concept phase)

When it comes to crisis response, timeliness is essential. ECFAS would bring two notable improvements to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service: 1) The flood early warning and monitoring system, with a rapid mapping of potentially flooded coastal areas and impacts on population and infrastructures based on forecasts of total water levels at the coasts; 2) New mapping products: on-demand satellite-based mapping of coastal floods and impacts and maps of pre/post-storm shoreline displacement.

The flood early warning and monitoring system would prove crucial to support the phases of preparedness and response, but would also be able to produce assessments on post-event damages. ECFAS Warning would include elevation datasets, data on soil characteristics, and storm total water levels, as well as radar altimetry products and situ data.

It would also include ECFAS Rapid Mapping to improve the Rapid Mapping services. Taking into consideration forecasts on waves and sea levels, it will allow the service to identify areas in Europe that might be subject to flooding events. “Rapid Mapping” algorithm will use a flood map catalogue that resides in WEkEO and that will be integrated with land use and land cover layers as well as population and infrastructure layers. With this coastal impact assessment maps will be produced.

The ECFAS Risk and Recovery Mapping is designed to improve the existing services of CEMS and will add a variety of coastal products that include, for example, shoreline position, impact of extreme events, and exposure of populated areas and important infrastructures.

How does WEkEO support ECFAS?

ECFAS will make use of the WEkEO DIAS. WEkEO provides access to climate, atmosphere, marine and land data, including from the Sentinel satellites. WEkEO provides access to Copernicus data, and data from the various Copernicus Services. WEkEO also offers cloud-based processes and tools, including pre-configured virtual machines, to support user-created services.

By hosting parts of the ECFAS system on its cloud platform, WEkEO will help to ensure smooth delivery of ECFAS products, for instance by hosting the flood map catalogue and allowing the extraction and combination of existing ocean and wave forecasts produced by CEMS.

The ECFAS project (a proof-of-concept for the implementation of a European Copernicus Coastal Flood Awareness System) was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101004211. It is implemented by a consortium bringing together the Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori di Pavia (IUSS), which acts as project coordinator, Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS), Consorzio Futuro in Ricerca (CFR), EurOcean, Mercator Ocean International (MOI), Planetek Hellas (PKH), University of the Aegean (UAEGEAN) and the Universitet Politecnica de Valencia (UPV).