Floods are the World-scale problem. In the North, this problem has its unique regional features. As rivers freeze during the winter time, ice break-up in spring time can cause ice jams and lead to so-called break-up flooding. As this happens every spring and has caused major floods, it is hard to underestimate the importance of this project.
The Northern Forum has served since its inception as a coordinator to provide assistance for emergencies in the North. In the past, assistance has been provided to find funding for the Komi oil spill (1993) and to provide humanitarian assistance during the two catastrophic floods endured by the Republic of Sakha in 1998 and 2001.
The Northern Forum organized with the Center for Excellence in Emergency Response a workshop on Severe Cold Climate Emergency Response in 2002, which focused on oil spills and floods and brought its recommendations to the Arctic Council.
Following two catastrophic floods in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), where the Northern Forum was involved in providing assistance to the victims of the flood, several regions decided to cooperate on flood forecasting and monitoring, using the latest technologies available. In 2004, the participants in the 1st Workshop on Flood Satellite Forecasting created the Northern Forum Flood Working Group, which has been meeting every year since. The Working Group is also working with the Arctic Council's Committee on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) as the EPPR Committee has extended its mandate to include natural disasters (read the report from the EPPR workshop in Anadyr, Chukotka, August 2009)
During the Working Group’s activities, an agreement with Canadian C-CORE company was signed to provide satellite images in high resolution to hydrologists, so that action teams could predict areas of possible ice jams or effectively track the existing ones; as well as evaluating the overall scale of a potential flooding. Currently this Working Group is working towards creation of an expanded database of ice movement monitoring data.
More recently, Project coordinator Nikita Tananayev has given a presentation on the Working Group’s activities in 2012-2013. This included information on meetings in St.Jones (Canada) in 2012 and in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2013, where the Working Groups has discussed application of satellite technologies for prevention and handling of consequences of nature disasters (that is - floods). As a result the Working Group has reached an agreement on development of the URIIT-based center for satellite information.
5th Workshop - Satellite monitoring for climate change
March 26-30, 2012
St. John, Newfoundland (Canada)
A workshop took place at the company C-CORE in Canada to discuss and plan cooperation on satellite monitoring of climate change impacts, such as floods, melting permafrost, forest fires and others. C-CORE has been providing free satellite imagery to regions of the Northern Forum for many years, and was the host of this year's meeting. The group decided to change its name from Flood Working Group to Water and Climate Change Working Group. The Ugra Institute for Information Technologies will become a partner in Polar View, and training was organized for them at C-CORE following the workshop. The Working Group adopted several items for its work plan that will be developed between interested regions such as the creation of an international database of ice freeze up and break up on Northern rivers, using existing databases, which will be hosted by URIIT in their supercomputer. Exchanges of information regarding ice break up models were also discussed.
4th Flood Working Group Workshop
July 16-20, 2007
The 4th Flood Working Group Workshop was held in Anchorage, Alaska (US) as a NATO Advanced Research Workshop. The focus was on satellite imagery for flood forecasting, flood warning processes, coastal erosion and climate change related issues and flood preparedness. The Workshop was followed July 23-27 by a training session at the Alaska-Pacific River Center for designated trainees from Sakha and Khanty-Mansiysk.
3rd Flood Working Group Meeting
Yakutsk, Sakha Republic, Yakutia (Russia)
March 9-12, 2006
The 3rd meeting was held in Yakutsk, hosted by the Ministries of Environmental Protection, Emergencies and External Affairs of the Sakha Republic. Over 60 specialists participated in the meeting, which included a full day of presentations, a field day on the Lena River to study preventative measures against flooding and two days of meetings dedicated to the provision of satellite images by C-CORE and the development of a concrete work plan for the coming two years. It was agreed that training sessions would be organized in the summer of 2006 in Alaska and Alberta, and work would be started regarding the translation of specialized literature in English and Russian. The work group will continue to collaborate on refining mathematics and physical modeling of flooding in order to provide a better assessment of flood risks.
2nd Flood Working Group meeting
Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada)
The participants received a presentation by C-CORE, a Canadian company that provides images from the Radarsat satellite, which is of great interest to Northern regions because the images can be received even in cloudy weather or at night. Canadian regions already benefit from this technology and Alaska has an agreement with C-CORE to receive these images as well. The workshop allowed several Russian participants to enter into agreements to get these images too. The other highlight of the workshop was the development of close cooperation between several regions on developing models for break-up, ice jams, and flood forecasting. The supercomputer available at the Ugra Institute for Information Technologies in Khanty-Mansiisk, the host of the first workshop, will be a very valuable tool to work out models. The participants also agreed that translating materials and documents into English and Russian should be given a priority, in order to avoid duplicating work and disseminating important information.
1st Workshop on Flood Satellite Forecasting
The workshop was hosted at the Ugra Research Institute for Information Technologies (URIIT), which features a Sunfire Supercomputer, an Earth Remote Sensing Center, a large antenna and very advanced GIS and mapping technology. The workshop featured presentations on flood satellite forecasting by Russian, Canadian and Alaskan speakers and Integrated Decision Support Systems applied to floods from Alaska and Colorado. A Working Group was formed as a result of the workshop, and a protocol of agreement signed to continue cooperation between participants.