, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 279-302

An evaluation of flood forecasting, warning and response systems in the European Union

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Abstract

This paper presents results from the EUROflood research project sponsored by the European Commission under the EPOCH programme. The paper evaluates levels of development of flood forecasting, warning and response systems (FFWRS) in the European Union with reference to riverine and tidal floods in The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Portugal. An experimental evaluation methodology, comprising fourteen criteria and five development stages, is used to evaluated FFWRS. Flood forecasting is the starting point, but the research addresses entire FFWRS. Despite advances in flood forecasting, FFWRS often under-perform because warning dissemination and response are unsatisfactory.

FFWRS have developed in response to different water resource management problems, varying flood characteristics and different historic, cultural and institutional factors. FFWRS for flood defence and flood emergency response are the main focus, but they are also important for navigation, bridge clearance, fishing, recreation and industry. France, parts of Germany, The Netherlands and England and Wales have relatively mature FFWRS. FFWRS are much less well developed in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Portugal, and important areas for enhancement are identified in all countries. Cross-country and within-country comparisons reveal the potential for knowledge transfer, although ultimately the unique circumstances of each country places limits upon this process.