Hydro-climatic extremes have become more frequent and intense in the past decades. In Europe, strong impacts of extreme weather events including heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and extreme precipitation on ecosystems and society have been recorded especially in areas of increased vulnerability. The increased frequency of extreme weather will likely increase the frequency of multi-hazard events, defined as “the combination of multiple drivers and/or hazards that contributes to societal or environmental risk” and can cause multiplicatively destructive consequences. These events are increasing in likelihood due to climate change, and have recently led to severe human and economic losses.
Studies show that compound events can lead to impacts that can be much larger than the sum of individual impacts. It is therefore crucial to understand their operating mode and to assess the environmental preconditions leading and/or aggravating compound events impacts. Preparing Europe to deal with climate disruptions especially high impact multi-hazards, represents a major scientific challenge that will require a quantum leap in our capacity to observe, understand and characterise inter-connected events, their natural and anthropogenic drivers and their complex underlaying processes, interactions and feedback. It will also require a major scientific effort to enhance current methodologies and capabilities to better assess vulnerability from regional to local scales, estimate the associated risk, and predict their occurrence and impacts on society and ecosystems. In addition, geohazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides are widespread across the Earth and can lead to significant damage, fatalities and economic impacts.
There is an urgent need to develop novel science-based solutions to better assess and tackle the resulting risks and impacts on society with special attention to establishing a closer dialogue between science and first responders to foster a faster and effective transfer of science results to emergency management in the areas of high-impact geological disasters.
Europe has now a unique opportunity to lead the global scientific efforts to address these challenges. Europe relies today on the most comprehensive and sophisticated space-based observation infrastructure in the world. This includes an extraordinary and complementary suite of sensors onboard of the Copernicus Sentinels series, the ESA’s Earth Explorers, the meteorological missions and different EO satellites planned to be launched by national space agencies and private operators in Europe. The unprecedented potential of this exceptional system of systems is far from being reached, and the huge synergistic opportunities offered by the combination of the wide range of different observations that will be concurrently available in the coming year are still unexplored. Such unique and increasing set of EO satellite data in combination with in-situ and citizen observations, socio-economic information, AI, advanced modelling capabilities, interdisciplinary research and new computing and digital technologies will be essential elements to address this major scientific and societal challenge.
This ITT aims at contributing to address this challenge. In particular, with this ITT ESA aims at unlocking the huge potential offered by the latest advances in satellite EO technology together with advanced models, artificial intelligence and novel computing and IT capabilities, to advance the fundamental scientific understanding of high impact extremes, multi-hazard events and geo-hazards and the underlying mechanisms, drivers and complex interactions with human activities and enhance our capacity to better identify, characterise and assess their associated risk, vulnerability and impacts on society and ecosystems. This activity will be implemented through a set of parallel independent projects.
Learn more about this Invitation To Tender on the esa-star Publication page.