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Early warning systems for floods

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Early warning systems are an important component of disaster risk management strategies. In contrast to flood forecasting systems, which assess flood risk, the main purpose of early warning systems is to issue warnings when a flood is imminent or already occurring. Early warning systems for floods comprise four inter-related elements: 1) assessments and knowledge of flood risks in the area, 2) local hazard monitoring (forecasts) and warning service, 3) flood risk dissemination and communication service, and 4) community response capabilities. This multifunctional system improves community preparedness for extreme weather events such as floods, in terms of both warning and increasing understanding of risks and appropriate flood responses. This minimizes safety and infrastructure threats. As part of the warning, the system provides a prediction of the scale, timing, location and likely damages of the impending flood. The system uses data from sensors to measure water levels at strategic points in local water basins (rivers, lakes) or flood defences (dikes, dams, embankments) to forecast a potential flood event. The current increase in the number and degree of extreme weather events such as floods make this technology important for climate change adaptation.…