COST is supported by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020

COST Action DAMOCLES

Introduction

Compound weather and climate events refer to the combination of multiple climate drivers that contributes to societal or environmental risk. Many major climate-related disasters are typically a result of a Compound Event. During such events, multiple weather and climate drivers come together and surpass the coping capacity of the underlying systems. For instance, lack of precipitation early in the year combined with an atmospheric blocking event over western Russia in 2010 led to an extraordinary hot and dry summer, which induced widespread wildfires and air pollution ultimately causing more than 50,000 deaths and destroying 25% of Russian crops. Even though our understanding of climate extremes and associated impacts is continuously improving, events that break the coping capacity of social and environmental systems often surprise us. This is because most current risk estimates underestimate the risks associated with correlated compound drivers.

The COST Action DAMOCLES coordinates research activities within Europe to gain a better understanding of Compound Events. The complete plan of activities is provided in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

 

Our goals

  • Establish and coordinate a network of previously unconnected communities including climate scientists, hydrologists, impact modellers, risk modellers, statisticians and stakeholders

  • Develop a common understanding of Compound Events

  • Create awareness in climate and climate impact communities about the inherent modelling challenges associated with Compound Events

  • Provide complementary training for Early Career Investigators (ECIs) in dynamical modelling, multivariate statistics, and extremes, all inherently relevant for studying Compound Events

  • Improve stakeholders' understanding of Compound Events and limitations to modelling these, enabling them to plan more targeted.

  • Improve stakeholders’ awareness of the importance to document physical and/or monetary impacts of Compound Events to foster scientific progress.

 

Approaches

DAMOCLES consists of five Working Groups (WGs), which complement each other to reach the overarching goals of the Action.

WG 1: Synthesis and analysis framework

WG 1 will provide a generalized framework that serves the identification, analysis methodology and impact assessment of Compound Events. This framework will underlie the analyses performed within the overall project and will be developed in coordination with the other WGs. It will help in the selection of appropriate statistical and modelling techniques needed for the analysis and evaluation of the effects of Compound Events on existing weather and climate risk assessments. The framework will be continuously updated throughout the duration of the Action with input from the other WGs

 

WG 2: Stakeholder involvement and science-user interface

WG 2 connects the scientific network developed through the Action with a network of stakeholders for whom Compound Events are important in decision-making. One of the first activities is to identify the stakeholder network already present in the action and to supplement this to match the action’s scientific modeling expertise. Next, a specific matchmaking event will bring modelers and stakeholders together to jointly identify a number of case-studies. Through the development of targeted modeling of real-world compound climate-related challenges stakeholders face, these case studies ultimately aim to support stakeholders in their management decision processes. Finally, WG 2 will examine how each case study has contributed to enabling collaboration between scientists and stakeholders on Compound Event risk management, cumulating in a white paper demonstrating lessons learnt and best practices.

 

WG 3: A meta-database of impact data

The effects of compound events on nature, people and infrastructure have not been investigated at sufficient depth. One reason for this research deficit is certainly a lack of data - or a lack on information on where to find relevant data. Only when information on the various impacts such as crop failures, increased human mortality, impaired infrastructure and affected ecosystem services is linked to climate data one can we fully understand the multiple dimensions of compound event impacts. The aim of this working group is to make a fundamental contribution here: We work on making relevant and freely available information for complex impact assessments findable. We are currently developing a meta-database to gain an overview on the relevant data streams. This inventory of data bases will help us to identify critical knowledge gaps that prevent today's researchers from linking of climate and impact data. In addition, the results of the analysis carried out will be used to support in-depth analyses carried out within the framework of selected case studies in relation to the other WGs of the project.

 

WG 4: New statistical approaches for model development and evaluation

WG 4 embarks on a collaborative effort on statistical approaches for understanding, modeling and predicting Compound Events. Our main scientific goals are categorizing them, understanding their skill and limitations, providing user guidelines for best practice and contributing to the development and improvement of methods. Additionally, we aim to train the next generation of scientists and users in optimally and responsibly using these methods, and in interpreting their results. In short, WG 4 is motivated by the insight that some models are useful, but some are harmful: how do we select them?

 

WG 5: Realistic model simulations for specific event types

WG 5 aims to establish a community focused on the dynamical modelling of Compound Events. Through a combination of climate and impact models, and in conjunction with the other WGs, WG 5 will improve our understanding of the underlying complex mechanisms that are associated with Compound Events that pose a threat to the ecosystem and society, such as inundation from multiple sources, the combination of heat and droughts and other phenomena. One of the first actions for WG 5 is to develop an inventory of specialist modelling expertise across a range of compound hazards to enable the selection of suitable case studies. This selection will be undertaken in collaboration with other WGs, and in particular together with stakeholders (WG 2). WG 5 will perform cases studies using a variety of dynamical models, thus improving our understanding of the current capabilities of these models to represent Compound Events. WG 5 will also organize a training school on the dynamical modelling of Compound Events.