The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has published new guidelines on the implementation of a coastal inundation forecasting early warning system, providing practical advice for countries and agencies looking to set up early warning systems.
The guidelines are a contribution to the UN’s Early Warnings for All initiative and reflect the high-priority needs of small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) that are particularly vulnerable to these coastal hazards.
According to the new guidelines, ‘The severity of the impacts of disasters, especially on coastal communities, is well known and documented. A contributing factor is the increasing intensity and frequency of meteorological and oceanographical hazards caused by climate change, including sea-level rise, which can seriously affect SIDS and other coastal nations.
‘It is critical to recognize that coastal inundation can result from single or multiple hazards, and that it is being exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, especially associated with sea-level rise.
‘Coastal inundation events are an increasing threat to the lives and livelihoods of people living in low-lying, populated coastal areas. Furthermore, the issues for most countries that have vulnerable coastlines are the increasing level of development for fishing, tourism and infrastructure, and the sustainability of their communities.’
The guidelines are based on the successful implementation of demonstration systems in four countries between 2009 and 2019 through the Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project, which included a special focus on Pacific islands. They also incorporate key principles of the WMO’s Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) and the Severe Weather Forecast Programme.
The aim is to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for guidelines that countries can follow to prepare and implement their coastal inundation forecasting early warning systems. It provides a straightforward 10-step process with templates featuring policy, management and technical processes that countries or regions can use to build their early warning systems, from vision through to go-live implementation.