A new United Nations technology aims to improve flood forecasting and catastrophe preparedness.
The United Nations revealed Friday that researchers have developed a new tool that generates rapid, precise street-level resolution maps of floods globally since 1985.
The World Flood Mapping Tool, which is available for free online, is intended to assist countries – notably those in the Global South, where flood risk maps are scarce and sometimes out of date – in preparing for and protecting against catastrophic disasters, according to the organization.
In a press release, Vladimir Smakhtin, head of the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment, and Health, stated, “Floods have damaged the lives of more than half a billion people, primarily in low- and middle-income countries, and resulting in damages of about $500 billion.”
“We need to prepare now for more intense and frequent floods as a result of climate change, and we believe that this tool will assist developing countries in particular in better understanding and mitigating the risks,” Smakhtin said.
According to U.N. University, a Tokyo-based academic and research institution of the United Nations, an estimated 1.5 billion people – roughly one-fifth of the world’s population – are at risk of being flooded severely.
According to Hamid Mehmood, an expert at the Institute for Water, Environment, and Health, who led the tool’s creation, the majority of forecasting centers in flood-prone countries lack the ability to run complicated models.
Floods like the ones that ravaged Europe earlier this year, killing over 200 people and causing billions in damage, are now nine times more likely as a result of climate change, he added.
An official from the European Flood Awareness System termed the high death toll as a “monumental failure of the system.”
In a news statement, Mehmood stated, “As temperatures continue to rise, the number of flood episodes will grow, as will their intensity.”
“Nowhere is immune – and yet, despite the cost and complexity of producing them, shockingly few locations, especially in wealthy countries, have usable, up-to-date flood maps,” he said.
The flood mapping tool, developed by the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health in Hamilton, Canada, allows government users to alter several variables to help detect holes in their countries’ flood defenses and responses, according to the organization.
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