The urgency for effective flood early warning systems has intensified lately due to escalating extreme weather patterns driven by human-induced climate change that could be recently observed in Europe and worldwide. These systems are not a luxury but a vital and cost-effective tool, yielding a substantial return on investment by saving lives and minimizing economic losses.
While existing early warning systems have proved successful in reducing fatalities and damages, significant gaps remain, particularly in small island developing states and least developed countries. Merely half of the countries globally possess adequate multi-hazard early warning systems, with even fewer having regulatory frameworks linking warnings to emergency plans.
Bridging these gaps necessitates robust global observing systems, comprehensive flood modeling, and integration with various tools and data, a complex and time-consuming process that nonetheless significantly protects lives and livelihoods from natural hazards like floods. The challenge lies in deploying flood early warning systems, which requires the setup and integration of complex compound flood models with hydrological models, impact assessment tools, and the necessary local and global data. Developing and validating such models can be a time-consuming task, even for expert users, posing a formidable obstacle to the widespread implementation of these critical systems.
The Global Status Report (2022) underscores that countries with extensive early warning coverage experience eight times fewer disaster-related deaths, underscoring the critical role of such systems in bolstering resilience. A 24-hour warning before a hazardous event, as advocated by the Global Commission on Adaptation, can further reduce ensuing damages by 30 percent.