ESA's DUE eSurge Project: Improving Storm Surge Modelling with Advanced Satellite Data Products
Harwood, Phillip1; Cipollini, Paolo2; Snaith, Helen2; Hoyer, Jacob3; Scarrott, Rory4; Dunne, Declan4; Stoffelen, Ad5; Donlon, Craig6

Storm surges, where water is pushed onshore by extreme weather conditions, are one of the deadliest and most devastating natural hazards, with large parts of the world's coastlines at risk. Well known examples include the 1953 North Sea floods, Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, and Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy in the Caribbean and USA. Any improvement in modelling and forecasting of such surges has the potential to save lives and protect infrastructure thereby saving money.

Satellite data already play an important role in storm forecasting, however much more could be done. In particular, advanced satellite products such as wind speed and direction from high resolution scatterometry and sea state information from coastal altimetry are not yet widely used in storm surge forecasting. Given the missions due to be launched over the coming years, in particular the Sentinel spacecraft, it is important to research how such data can be used operationally.

Recognising this, ESA has initiated the eSurge project through its DUE programme, with the aim of improving the uptake of such satellite products by storm surge modellers and forecasters, by making it easier to access such data and by demonstrating their value to the community. The project is led by Logica, now part of CGI, (UK), with NOC (UK), DMI (Denmark), CMRC (Ireland) and KNMI (Netherlands) as scientific partners.

To achieve its objectives, eSurge makes a wide range of satellite and other data freely available through a dedicated web portal. Some of these data are already available from other sources, however by bringing them together in one place we can facilitate their use. Other data have been created as part of the project activities; in particular we are using coastal altimetry techniques developed in the COASTALT project to provide measurements of water level in coastal zones where they were not previously available. We work closely with users to ensure that we are meeting their real needs. To help them utilise these data the project is organising a series of workshops and training events. The project will also perform a number of experiments to demonstrate the value of these data and to investigate how best to assimilate them into models, and we will present the initial results of these experiments here.

Starting in spring 2013, eSurge will provide a demonstration of a near real time service (eSurge Live) in the North Sea and North Indian Ocean, to demonstrate the feasibility of using such data operationally. We will describe this service, and report on its initial operations.