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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: FP7 » Growing frequency of floods in Europe and the world

version: 12 / updated: 2011-02-09
id: #1644 / version id: #1185
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Rafael Popper
List of all contributors by versions (mouse over)
Last changed by: Rafael Popper
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

European Commission Framework Programme for RTD (FP7)

Theme/activity of inspiration

Theme 6 - Environment (including Climate Change)

Sub-theme/area of inspiration

Natural hazards

Optional reference/s to FP7 project/s

Use the following format: Project Acronym (Project Reference No.). Use commas if more than one project is associated to this Wild Card, for example: ALFA-BIRD (213266), SAFAR (213374), LAPCAT-II (211485)
MICORE (202798) - http://www.micore.eu

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
Growing frequency of floods in Europe and the world

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
The number of flooding events in Europe and the world has doubled since 2005 (when 50 severe events were reported). The figure increased in 2006 (67 floods), 2007 (73 floods), 2008 (77 floods) and 2009 (88 floods). However, 2010 was a year of unprecedented flooding events (108) with nineteen of these seriously affecting Central Europe (Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Poland), Southern Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia) and Eastern Europe (Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Russia). Such flooding events highlight the inter-dependency of stakeholders in a water catchment area, and the different organizations involved. They also highlight the role of human error and moral hazard in warning, prevention, adaptation, insurance and post-event strategy.


storm, weather, natural hazards, disaster, flooding, climate change


(max. 250 characters)
Growing frequency of unusual storm weather has raised concerns about the need for early warning and information systems supporting disaster prevention and management.

Signal's first apperance


Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 Flooding is the most direct impact of climate change which is now beginning to take shape new/emerging
very harmful
#2 Flooding is a perennial problem, recently heightened by accelerated by urbanization & economic developmentintense heat waves re-emerging
very harmful
#3 Flood events demonstrate the vulnerability and fragmentation of current institutional responses. continuation
#4 Discontinuation of trend to build in flood plains and other areas traditionally known to be unsuitable for development. discontinuation
mainly beneficial

Under what assumption the Weak Signal might evolve.

Recognition of the Weak Signal leads to some important actions


please specify
please select
Level 1: important for a particular country Especially low-lying countries (e.g. Netherlands).
Level 2: important for a particular world region Central/Southern Europe, Western Africa, Central America.
Level 3: important for the European Union Especially for coastal areas.
Level 4: important for the whole world

Filters preventing the signal's monitoring

information/communicational filters (media/editorial interests, language, reasoning)
institutional filters (rules, laws, regulations)
economic filters (business/market interests)
scientific filters (knowledge/technology access)
political filters (party or ideological interests)

Comments on selection:

Lack of intergovernmental and multidisciplinary efforts to advance research, inform the public and/or promote joint actions, policies and regulations

Key driving forces of this signal

Please use these boxes to provide up to 2 drivers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
Driver 1 Driver 2
Economic Growing industrial carbon emissions
Environmental Climate change impacts & vulnerability
Values/Ethical/Cultural Consumerism culture & lack of regard for society Lack of necessary concerns for the environment

Major risks & opportunities associated to the signal

Please choose the most appropriate timeframe option(s) to which you would like to provide inputs.
Risks Opportunities
before 2015 Increased number of natural disasters
between 2015-2025 Mass migration Moves towards a more sustainable and environment-oriented society

Potential stakeholders' actions

short-term actions
(after 2015)
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) Promote further research on, and integration of, early waring systems. Develop contingence plans and practical guides on most relevant case studies analysed by (pan-)European early warning systems
Academic/Research sector Further research on unexpected consequences of storm events.

Signal's relevance for European Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Diseases, health and well-being Pandemics and infectious diseases
Food security and diet Potential impact on quality and availability of food products
Energy security/dynamics Major storm weather could disrupt important energy networks
Urban and rural dynamics
Sustainability and climate change Potential danger of cross-contamination

Signal's relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology
Environment (including Climate Change)
Social Sciences and Humanities

Pan-European strategies influencing the signal

please justify:
particularly relevant
Developing and funding world-class research infrastructures Early-warning systems
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer
Increasing the efficiency and impact of public research through Joint Programming (i.e. combining national and pan-European research efforts) or the optimisation of research programmes and priorities, for example. Pan-Euroean climate change research
Fostering and facilitating coherent international cooperation in science and technology

Research-friendly strategies potentially improving understanding of the signal

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here
please justify:
particularly relevant
Overcoming sub-criticality and systemic failures
To be subcritical means that the effort in a particular field or subfield lacks resources, equipment or a sufficient number of researchers to achieve a desired goal
Creating a closer link between researchers & policy-makers
(e.g. supporting both thematic and cross-cutting policies, highlighting the strategic purpose of the European Research Area, etc.

Signal's relevance for future R&D and STI policies

Note: RTD = research and technology development; STI = science, technology and innovation
This weak signal requires: more research on weather and climate change; more advanced technologies for monitoring and assessing changes in the environment; and more coordinated STI policy and regional, national, European and global levels. In particular there is a need for research-policy linkages on the socio-political-institutional dynamics of flood warning, flood management and post-disaster strategy. The economics of risk assessment in this wider context can then be revisited.