All Forecasts Are Wrong, But Some Are Useful

Project Team: East Africa Health and Air Quality II
Team Location: International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Palisades, New York

Validating the heavy rainfall forecast with known floods was a three-step process. This process was done on a global scale while focusing on Eastern Africa. Image Credit: East Africa Health & Air Quality II Team.

Validating the heavy rainfall forecast with known floods was a three-step process. This process was done on a global scale while focusing on Eastern Africa. Image Credit: East Africa Health & Air Quality II Team.

Authors List: Jerrod Lessel, Project Lead (California State University, Fresno)

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Pietro Ceccato (Research Scientist, Lead Environmental Monitoring Program, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, The Earth Institute, Columbia University)

Past/Other Contributors:
Andrew Kruczkiewicz (Columbia University)
Alex Sweeney (Columbia University)

Abstract:
Globally, floods are one of the most devastating natural disasters affecting human and economic resources and livelihoods. East Africans are not immune to experiencing this type of tragedy. Along with flooding, recent epidemics of vector borne diseases such as Leishmaniasis have caused an estimated 100,000 deaths in the East Africa region. This has renewed the impetus for defining the ecological boundaries of the vector. It has previously been demonstrated that climate and environmental factors including flood inundation are reliable predictors for outbreaks of vector-borne diseases. The first term of this project explored the relationship between precipitation and resultant inundation on a global scale. This was accomplished through a comparative analysis of the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Surface Water Microwave Product Series (SWaMPS) inundation fraction anomaly product against the Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO) flood maps to verify precision between the two products. In order to explore the potential for forecasting these events, this term compared the CUNY/SWaMPS inundation anomalies product to heavy rainfall forecasts developed by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). There is also a potential for a well-calibrated, flood-forecasting tool to be used as predictor for vector-borne disease outbreaks in the region. Therefore, the validation of the current IFRC extreme rainfall forecasting maps does not only improve the region’s ability to predict where and when to allocate emergency flood resources but could also act as a useful predictor for vector-borne disease outbreaks.

 

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