Web-based natural dam-burst flood hazard Assessment and foreCasting sysTem (WeACT)

Institute

  • Loughborough University

Background

Catastrophic floods resulting from the failure of dams that impound glacier lakes are known as glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). A hydrodynamically similar natural hazard is caused by the failure of a river dam that has been formed by a landslide. GLOFs and landslide dam-burst floods, jointly termed natural dam-burst floods (NDBFs), have been recognised as one of the most serious natural hazards in populated mountainous regions across the globe.

Of all South Asian countries, Nepal is subject to some of the highest national-level socio-economic impacts from NDBFs, threatening thousands of people, hundreds of villages and basic infrastructure downstream. Therefore, it is imperative that a national capacity is developed for increasing awareness, early warning and risk mitigation for NDBFs.

Although the Nepalese government has been actively seeking to reduce and mitigate the NDBF risks, effective early warning and risk mitigation strategies are still lacking across the country. Early-warning systems have recently been developed and implemented in various global locations for NDBFs, however, the potential of the latest remote sensing and high-performance flood-modelling technologies has yet to be adequately explored and exploited in the existing NDBF monitoring and early-warning systems.

In short, there is an urgent societal need to develop reliable NDBF-hazard risk assessment, forecasting and warning tools to improve preparedness and build resilience at the community level, and there is a clear research gap in exploiting the latest monitoring and modelling technologies to support practical NDBF risk-mitigation applications.

Aims

To meet the societal need and fill the current research gap, the overarching aim of WeACT is to exploit recent contemporary advances in earth observation and high-performance dam-break flood modelling to innovate a web-based NDBF hazard assessment and forecasting system to improve community flood preparedness and resilience in Nepal.

Although the proposed project has a focus case study in Nepal (the 3400 km2 Sun Kosi catchment), the developed methods and tools will be transferable to other mountainous countries in South Asia or across the globe that are suffering from NDBFs.