Weatherbeaten – How Can we Predict and Minimise Extreme Weather Impacts?

Engineers from Trinity speak on RTÉ about their involvement in project RAIN, which seeks to develop an extreme weather risk-management framework for use across the EU.

2340986314_f1316deb46_bThis is the time of year at which many people dream of a white Christmas, but heavy snowstorms and other, more serious extreme weather events such as flash floods and hurricanes are having progressively serious consequences for millions of people each year.

RTÉ’s Weatherbeaten, which screens at 6:30 pm on RTÉ 1 on Monday December 29th, will look back at a remarkable year of weather and consider the impacts extreme events have on people in Ireland and further afield.

Appearing on the programme is Associate Professor in Civil Structural and Environmental Engineering at Trinity, Dr Alan O’Connor, who is leading a €4.77 million project that will examine the impacts of extreme weather on EU transport and infrastructure.

Project RAIN – Risk Analysis of Infrastructure Networks for Extreme Weather Events is in its early stages, but Dr O’Connor hopes it will aid decision-making in the long-term, securing new robust infrastructure development and protecting existing infrastructure against changing climates and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns.

RAIN will develop early warning flags and support decision making. It will also suggest engineering solutions so that essential networks can get back up and running as soon as possible. These include phone networks, electricity and gas supply, road and rail links. In an EU-wide collaboration, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the European Severe Storms Laboratory in Germany will consider individual hazards such as snowstorms, floods and wildfires. Meanwhile, scientists in Holland and Italy will assess risk and measurable effects on citizens, before modelled outcomes are tested against real-world case studies by partners in Ireland.

Dr O’Connor said: “We need to model extreme weather events and the effect an event will have on transportation and energy networks, not only in isolation but in combination, to see how a failure in one can affect the other. In the RAIN project we have brought together a team of experts from across the EU to look at possible solutions that can be put in place to minimize the risk and maximize resilience of the networks. But it is not enough to simply consider todays weather patterns we also need to see how climate change is likely to impact on the relative probability of these events occurring at particular locations. The RAIN project began in May 2014 but already it is achieving successes in these areas. In February 2015 we will have a workship in Berlin for Infrastructure Network owners and managers which is focused on identifying severe weather hazards and their impacts on critical infrastructures. Those interested in finding out more about the project should register via the website to receive regualr updates and copies of our newsletter. ”

Press release from Trinity College Dublin

Photo credits to: Marcus Böckmann