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European Windstorm

The focus of extra-tropical cyclone research in the Willis Research Network (WRN) is on European windstorms. Over the past 25 years, losses from these storms (and associated floods) have run into the tens of billions of Euro; the combination of large insured exposures and the potential for widespread damaging winds across the region mean it is just a question of time before further large losses are incurred. As a result, quantifying windstorm losses in Europe is of the highest importance for the global (re)insurance industry. In addition, regulators and rating agencies are playing an ever-more active role in evaluating the impact of Europe windstorm-related losses on industry solvency and influencing capital decisions.


Windstorm loss quantification starts with a deep understanding of the nature of the underlying peril and how this can be translated into the necessary assumptions required to assess risk. While significant advancements have been made in the European windstorms catastrophe model offerings, challenges to better understanding persist. The WRN programme focuses on addressing these challenges and filling in the gaps in our current understanding. Priorities include

  • the development of improved and consistent continental historical datasets providing baseline reference points for risk evaluation
  • the incorporation of high-resolution climate modelling outputs to augment historical records, event frequency and hazard validation, windspeed correlation
  • the analysis of the propensity of extreme storms to cluster, spatially and temporally. 

European Windstorm Research

Exploring history.
Currently there is no consistent catalogue of historical European windstorm events including track and intensity information. For the insurance sector windstorm ‘footprints’ are needed, including the aggregated surface wind gusts. In co-operation with WRN partners work is under way to provide an open-source track catalogue based on a new ensemble of high-resolution windstorm footprints.

Climate Variability.
European windstorm risk is heavily affected by large-scale climate patterns, in particular the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). One major research stream investigates the drivers for strong NAO anomalies and the variability of extreme anomalies. Historical data and regional climate models provide information on both the NAO behaviour and its effects on frequency, intensity and tracks of European windstorms. In particular the climate models provide insight into possible extremes and so-called ‘black swans’ – unpredicted events. These include events such as low pressure of unprecedented depth or windstorms in parts of Europe where they have never occured before in the historical record.

A second research stream is looking into the ‘clustering’ phenomenon. There is high evidence that climate variability influences storm frequency, tracks and intensity for certain phases of climate patterns, such as the NAO. The main goal is to better understand variability and uncertainty in the probability of Europe-wide and regional windstorm losses (single and aggregate) due to climate variability.


Global Climate Models.
We are reaching the limits of what historical records alone can tell us about European windstorm risk. Detailed long-duration historical records are difficult to assemble and not satisfactory when used to estimate the probability of events, in particular for tail risks and extremes. The WRN is at the centre of employing the outputs of a new generation of high-resolution climate models, which can model realistically the distribution and intensities of European windstorms for the current climate and future climates. In particular, climate models provide better understanding of the predictability of seasonal variability of European windstorm activity, as well as providing some information on future windstorm risk.

 

 

Latest on European Windstorm

  • 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

    Read More about this publication ›

    RMS v11 Europe Windstorm Model Review

    Date: Jan 01, 2011 | Type: Paper | Attachment: Download File ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: European Windstorm

    Authors: Brian Owens
    Fields: RMS European Windstorm

    Summary: Preliminary review of RMS v11 Europe Windstorm Model by Willis Re Analytics

    Read More about this publication ›

    An efficient method for forecasting windpower

    Date: Mar 04, 2010 | Type: Paper | Attachment: Download File ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: European Windstorm

    Authors: Patrick McSharry A. Lau
    Fields: Atmospheric

    Summary: Using aggregated wind power in Ireland, two approaches of multi-step density forecasts are studied which can be obtained from simple iterations so that intensive computations are avoided.

    WRN European Windstorm Clustering - Briefing Paper

    Date: May 27, 2009 | Type: Paper | Attachment: Download File ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: European Windstorm

    Authors: David Stephenson and Renato Vitolo. Ian Cook and Kirsten Mitchell-Wallace
    Fields: Atmospheric

    Summary: This WRN Briefing Document provides an overview of the Serial Clustering of Intense European Windstorms paper.

    Serial Clustering of Intense European Windstorms

    Date: May 26, 2009 | Type: Paper | Attachment: Download File ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: European Windstorm

    Authors: David Stephenson and Renato Vitolo. Ian Cook and Kirsten Mitchell-Wallace
    Fields: Atmospheric

    Summary: This paper investigates how clustering of wintertime extra-tropical cyclones depends on the vorticity intensity of the windstorms, and the sampling time period over which storm transits are counted.

    Serial clustering of intense European storms (Poster Presentation)

    Date: Dec 12, 2008 | Type: Presentation | Attachment: Download File ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: European Windstorm

    Authors: Renato Vitolo
    Fields: Atmospheric

    Summary: Poster presentation from the Conference on Teleconnections in the Atmosphere and Oceans

    The Clustering of Hazard Events

    Date: Jul 08, 2008 | Type: Presentation | Attachment: Download File ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: European Windstorm

    Authors: David Stephenson
    Fields: Atmospheric

    Summary: Find out why hydrometeorological hazard events are not independent and what this means for estimates of annual losses, reinstatement premiums etc.

    Willis' Detailed Report for Winterstorm Kyrill - Feb 2007

    Date: Feb 01, 2007 | Type: Article | Attachment: Download File ›

    Pillar: Natural Hazard & Risk
    Hub: European Windstorm

    Authors: Dr Kirsten Mitchell-Wallace - Catastrophe Management Services - Willis, Andrew Mitchell - Catastrophe Management Services - Willis
    Fields: Atmospheric

    Summary: Willis' Catastrophe Management Services has produced an in depth, comprehensive report into the most significant event on a pan-European basis since Jeanette in 2002.

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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