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Natural Hazard & Risk

Around half of the world’s $200 billion annual global reinsurance premiums are spent on protection against natural hazards; the solvency capital charge for most non-life insurance companies under regulatory frameworks is strongly influenced by exposures to natural catastrophe risk and insurance companies are sensitive to their relative financial and customer performance when natural disasters occur. In response to this importance, natural hazards and risk are a significant priority for the Willis Research Network.

The WRN Natural Hazard and Risk programme identifies and quantifies risks to exposed assets and populations at global and local scales. These assessments are incorporated into financial and operational decision support systems including catastrophe risk and internal economic capital models within insurance companies. This works informs decisions on risk retention, diversification and transfer strategy, including reinsurance transactions.

The Research Programme assesses the distribution, frequency and intensity of extremes across the full range hydro-meteorological and geo hazards; the vulnerabilities of exposed assets and populations and their financial impact.

Latest on Natural Hazard & Risk

  • Technology: Fight floods on a global scale

    Date: Mar 13, 2014 | Type: Paper | Journal: Nature | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Flood

    Authors: Guy J.-P. Schumann, Paul D. Bates, Jeffrey C. Neal & Konstantinos M. Andreadis
    Fields:

    Summary: Bristol and NASA issue call for international co-operation on global-scale flood model

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    Social Vulnerability and Integrated Risk Project

    Date: Feb 03, 2014 | Type: Paper | Attachment: Download File ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Earthquake

    Authors: Bijan Khazai, Christopher Burton, Christopher Power and James E. Daniell
    Fields: GEM

    Summary: Central to the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) is the development of state-of-the-art modeling capabilities that can be used worldwide for the assessment and communication of seismic risk. For a holistic evaluation of the consequences of earthquake impacts and loss, the Social Vulnerability and Integrated Risk Project is focusing on the development of metrics, methods, and OpenSource software tools for the assessment of seismic risk and impact potential beyond the estimation of direct physical impacts and loss of life.

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    High resolution global climate modelling; the UPSCALE project, a large simulation campaign

    Date: Jan 17, 2014 | Type: Paper | Journal: Geoscientific Model Development | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Tropical Cyclones

    Authors: M. S. Mizielinski, M. J. Roberts, P. L. Vidale, R. Schiemann, M.-E. Demory, J. Strachan, et al.
    Fields: Hurricanes, Tropical cyclones, Climate change, Climate models, Coupled models

    Summary: The UPSCALE (UK on PRACE: weather-resolving Simulations of Climate for globAL Environmental risk) project constructed and ran an ensemble of HadGEM3 (Hadley centre Global Environment Model 3) atmosphere-only global climate simulations over the period 1985–2011, at resolutions of N512 (25 km), N216 (60 km) and N96 (130 km) as used in current global weather forecasting, seasonal prediction and climate modelling respectively. Alongside these present climate simulations a parallel ensemble looking at extremes of future climate was run, using a time-slice methodology to consider conditions at the end of this century.

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    Improved evaporative flux partitioning and carbon flux in the land surface model JULES: Impact on the simulation of land surface processes in temperate Europe

    Date: Jan 17, 2014 | Type: Paper | Journal: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Tropical Cyclones

    Authors: Catherine Van den Hoof, Pier Luigi Vidale, Anne Verhoef, Caroline Vincke
    Fields: Eddy fluxes measurements; Europe; Evaporative flux partitioning; Land surface model; 2003 heat wave

    Summary: The primary role of land surface models embedded in climate models is to partition surface available energy into upwards, radiative, sensible and latent heat fluxes. Partitioning of evapotranspiration, ET, is of fundamental importance: as a major component of the total surface latent heat flux, ET affects the simulated surface water balance, and related energy balance, and consequently the feedbacks with the atmosphere. In this context it is also crucial to credibly represent the CO2 exchange between ecosystems and their environment. In this study, JULES, the land surface model used in UK weather and climate models, has been evaluated for temperate Europe. Compared to eddy covariance flux measurements, the CO2 uptake by the ecosystem is underestimated and the ET overestimated

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    Spatial and temporal modeling of radar rainfall uncertainties

    Date: Jan 01, 2014 | Type: Paper | Journal: Atmospheric Research | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Flood

    Authors: Gabriele Villarini, Bong-Chul Seo, Francesco Serinaldi, Witold F. Krajewskia
    Fields: Weather radar; Rainfall; Uncertainty; Space–time modeling; NEXRAD

    Summary: It is widely acknowledged that radar-based estimates of rainfall are affected by uncertainties (e.g., mis-calibration, beam blockage, anomalous propagation, and ground clutter) which are both systematic and random in nature. Improving the characterization of these errors would yield better understanding and interpretations of results from studies in which these estimates are used as inputs (e.g., hydrologic modeling) or initial conditions (e.g., rainfall forecasting).

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    The sensitivity of the tropical circulation and Maritime Continent precipitation to climate model resolution

    Date: Dec 31, 2013 | Type: Paper | Journal: Climate Dynamics | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Tropical Cyclones

    Authors: R. Schiemann, M.-E. Demory, M. S. Mizielinski, M. J. Roberts, L. C. Shaffrey, J. Strachan, P. L. Vidale
    Fields: Precipitation Climate model bias Resolution GCM Boundary conditions Maritime Continent Walker circulation Coastal tiling

    Summary: The dependence of the annual mean tropical precipitation on horizontal resolution is investigated in the atmospheric version of the Hadley Centre General Environment Model. Reducing the grid spacing from about 350 km to about 110 km improves the precipitation distribution in most of the tropics. In particular, characteristic dry biases over South and Southeast Asia including the Maritime Continent as well as wet biases over the western tropical oceans are reduced. The annual-mean precipitation bias is reduced by about one third over the Maritime Continent and the neighbouring ocean basins associated with it via the Walker circulation.

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    Rainfall extremes: Toward reconciliation after the battle of distributions

    Date: Dec 23, 2013 | Type: Paper | Journal: Water Resources Research | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Flood

    Authors: Francesco Serinaldi, Chris G. Kilsby
    Fields: extreme events;precipitation;time series analysis;peak-over-threshold analysis;heavy tail behavior

    Summary: This study attempts to reconcile the conflicting results reported in the literature concerning the behavior of peak-over-threshold (POT) daily rainfall extremes and their distribution.

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    Determining tropical cyclone inland flooding loss on a large scale through a new flood peak ratio-based methodology

    Date: Dec 20, 2013 | Type: Paper | Attachment: Download File ›
    Journal: Environmental Research Letters | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Tropical Cyclones

    Authors: Jeffrey Czajkowski, Gabriele Villarini, Erwann Michel-Kerjan and James A Smith
    Fields:

    Summary: In recent years, the United States has been severely affected by numerous tropical cyclones (TCs) which have caused massive damages. While media attention mainly focuses on coastal losses from storm surge, these TCs have inflicted significant devastation inland as well. Yet, little is known about the relationship between TC-related inland flooding and economic losses.

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    Surface water connectivity dynamics of a large scale extreme flood

    Date: Nov 15, 2013 | Type: Paper | Journal: Journal of Hydrology | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Flood

    Authors: Mark A. Trigg, Katerina Michaelides, Jeffrey C. Neal, Paul D. Bates
    Fields: Geostatistical connectivity; Floodplain dynamics; 2011 Bangkok; Thailand; MODIS

    Summary: •Uses the MODIS surface water product observations of the 2011 Bangkok flood. •A data gap filling method is developed to better preserve the dynamics of the event. •We quantify surface water connectivity geostatistically to give new flood insights. •There is a clear structure to the connectivity of the event through time and space. •Changes and thresholds in the connectivity are linked to major flood mechanisms.

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    Response of Tropical Cyclones to Idealized Climate Change Experiments in a Global High-Resolution Coupled General Circulation Model

    Date: Oct 31, 2013 | Type: Paper | Journal: Journal of Science | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Tropical Cyclones

    Authors: Bell, Ray, Jane Strachan, Pier Luigi Vidale, Kevin Hodges, Malcolm Roberts
    Fields: Hurricanes, Tropical cyclones, Climate change, Climate models, Coupled models

    Summary: The authors present an assessment of how tropical cyclone activity might change owing to the influence of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, using the U.K. High-Resolution Global Environment Model (HiGEM) with N144 resolution (~90 km in the atmosphere and ~40 km in the ocean).

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    As the Wind Blows? Understanding Hurricane Damages at the Local Level Through a Case Study Analysis

    Date: Oct 25, 2013 | Type: Paper | Journal: American Meteorological Society | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Tropical Cyclones

    Authors: James Done and Jeff Czajkowski.
    Fields:

    Summary: An understanding of the potential drivers of local scale hurricane losses is developed through a case study analysis. Two recent Category Three US landfalling hurricanes (Ivan in 2004 and Dennis in 2005) are analyzed that, although similar in terms of maximum wind speed at their proximate coastal landfall locations, caused vastly different loss amounts.

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    On the relationship between the index of dispersion and Allan factor and their power for testing the Poisson assumption

    Date: Oct 10, 2013 | Type: Paper | Journal: Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Flood

    Authors: Francesco Serinaldi
    Fields: Index of dispersion Allan factor Power analysis Monte Carlo simulation Poisson process Point processes

    Summary: Several statistical tests are available for testing the Poisson hypothesis and/or the equidispersion of a point process. The capability to discriminate between the Poissonian behaviour and more complex processes is fundamental in many areas of research including earthquake analysis, hydrology, ecology, biology, signal analysis and sociology.

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    Importance of oceanic resolution and mean state on the extra-tropical response to El Niño in a matrix of coupled models

    Date: Sep 30, 2013 | Type: Paper | Journal: Climate Dynamics | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Tropical Cyclones

    Authors: Andrew Dawson, Adrian J. Matthews, David P. Stevens, Malcolm J. Roberts, Pier Luigi Vidale
    Fields: North Pacific Extra-tropical SST ENSO GCM Basic state

    Summary: The extra-tropical response to El Niño in configurations of a coupled model with increased horizontal resolution in the oceanic component is shown to be more realistic than in configurations with a low resolution oceanic component. This general conclusion is independent of the atmospheric resolution.

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    The role of horizontal resolution in simulating drivers of the global hydrological cycle

    Date: Sep 30, 2013 | Type: Paper | Journal: Climate Dynamics | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Tropical Cyclones

    Authors: Marie-Estelle Demory, Pier Luigi Vidale, Malcolm J. Roberts, Paul Berrisford, Jane Strachan, Reinhard Schiemann, Matthew S. Mizielinski
    Fields: Hydrological cycle Atmospheric moisture transport Precipitation Moisture recycling GCM Horizontal resolution

    Summary: The role of atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) horizontal resolution in representing the global energy budget and hydrological cycle is assessed, with the aim of improving the understanding of model uncertainties in simulating the hydrological cycle.

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    An uncertain journey around the tails of multivariate hydrological distributions

    Date: Sep 12, 2013 | Type: Presentation | Attachment: Download File ›
    Journal: Water Resources Journal | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Flood

    Authors: Francesco Serinaldi
    Fields: multivariate frequency analysis;copulas;Monte Carlo simulation;multivariate design events;Joint confidence intervals;uncertainty

    Summary: Moving from univariate to multivariate frequency analysis, this study extends the Klemeš' critique of the widespread belief that the increasingly refined mathematical structures of probability functions increase the accuracy and credibility of the extrapolated upper tails of the fitted distribution models.

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    Extreme Wind Storms (XWS) Catalogue available online

    Date: Sep 04, 2013 | Type: Article | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: European Windstorm

    Authors:
    Fields: Windstorm

    Summary: The first publicly available historical catalogue for eXtreme European WindStorms (XWS) is now online

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    SRTM vegetation removal and hydrodynamic modeling accuracy

    Date: Sep 04, 2013 | Type: Paper | Journal: Water Resources Research | Ext. Link: Click Here ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Flood

    Authors: Calum A. Baugh, Paul D. Bates, Guy Schumann, Mark A. Trigg
    Fields: SRTM DEM accuracy;global vegetation height data set;remote sensing;hydrodynamic modeling;Amazon River

    Summary: Hydrodynamic modeling of large remote forested floodplains, such as the Amazon, is hindered by the vegetation signal contained within Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) such as the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). Not removing the vegetation signal causes DEMs to be overelevated preventing the correct simulation of overbank inundation. Previous efforts to remove this vegetation signal have either not accounted for its spatial variability or relied upon single assumed error values. As a possible solution, a systematic approach to removing the vegetation signal which accounts for spatial variability using recently published estimates of global vegetation heights is proposed. The proposed approach is applied to a well-studied reach of the Amazon floodplain where previous hydrodynamic model applications were affected by the SRTM vegetation signal.

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    The use of macroseismic intensity as a basis for empirical vulnerability assessment

    Date: Aug 28, 2013 | Type: Paper | Attachment: Download File ›
    Conf: VEESD |

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Earthquake

    Authors: R. Foulser-Piggott, R. Spence
    Fields: Earthquake, macroseismic intensity, vulnerability, building damage, collapse, database.

    Summary: Macroseismic intensity has been extensively used as a basis for the development of empirical vulnerability relationships, identifying the probability of a given damage state for a particular building class as a function of ground shaking intensity. There are clearly problems in treating intensity and the building damage caused as independent variables, since intensity assignment at higher intensity levels is to a large extent based on observed building damage.

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    Extending EMS-98 for more convenient application outside Europe I: Review of field experience using EMS-98

    Date: Aug 28, 2013 | Type: Paper | Attachment: Download File ›
    Conf: VEESD |

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Earthquake

    Authors: R. Foulser-Piggott, R. Spence
    Fields: Earthquake, macroseismic intensity, EMS-98, damage assessment, vulnerability.

    Summary: A review of field experience using EMS-98 has been conducted as the first stage in a project to modify the current version of EMS-98, for Intensity levels greater than VI, to make the scale more internationally applicable.

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    Extending EMS-98 for more convenient application outside Europe II: Development of the International Macroseismic Scale

    Date: Aug 28, 2013 | Type: Paper | Attachment: Download File ›
    Conf: VEESD |

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: Earthquake

    Authors: R. Foulser-Piggott, R. Spence
    Fields: Earthquake, macroseismic intensity, EMS-98, damage assessment, vulnerability.

    Summary: Following the detailed review of field use experience of EMS-98 presented in Paper I: Review of field experience using EMS-98, this paper focuses on proposing modifications to the current version of the European Macroseismic Scale (EMS-98) to make it more specifically applicable to areas outside Europe with significantly different building stocks.

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About WRN

As economic, social and environmental uncertainties increase, institutions and populations seek greater resilience to support sustainable growth. Science and insurance lay at the heart of understanding, managing and sharing these risks, building more secure futures at local and global scales.

The Willis Research Network (WRN) operates across the full spectrum of risk from natural catastrophe, to legal liability, financial and security issues linked across driving themes: Resilience, Security & Sustainable Growth; Managing Extremes; Insurance & Risk Management and Mastering the Modelled World.

All Members and activities are united by a common aim: improving resilience by integrating first class science into operational and financial decision-making across public and private institutions.

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Fast Facts

  • The WRN was formed in September 2006 to support leading academic research into extreme events, with a specific focus on responding to the challenges faced by businesses, insurers and governments
  • The WRN's membership spans the globe, counting more than 50 world-class universities, scientific research organisations and public policy institutions
  • Collectively, our members have published more than 100 papers in leading scientific journals
  • Nearly all of the WRN's research is freely available to the public and can be downloaded on our website

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