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

22 December 2014

This 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 in the School of 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.

The programme can be viewed here.

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 minimise the risk and maximise resilience of the networks. But it is not enough to simply consider today’s 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.”

“RAIN began in May 2014 but is already achieving successes in these areas. In February 2015 we will have a workship in Berlin for Infrastructure Network owners and managers, which will be focused on identifying severe weather hazards and their impacts on critical infrastructures.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the project should register via the website (www.rain-project.eu) to receive regular updates and copies of the newsletter.  

Media Contact

Thomas Deane, Press Officer for the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science | deaneth@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 4685

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