Following the disastrous floods in the Elbe and Danube in August 2002, the European Commission launched an activity on the development of a European Flood Alert system (Communication (COM(2002)-481 final)). A prototype of such a system (acronym EFAS) should be developed and tested during Framework 6 and include a number of novel features that are usually not provided by National Water Authorities and that would be beneficial both for the European Commission as well as the Member States. These features include
• simulations of discharge across Europe providing comparable results across Europe.
• flood simulations and forecasts based on more than one weather forecast
• use of meteorological Ensemble Prediction Systems as input into the flood simulation model allowing to estimate the uncertainty in combined meteorological and hydrological forecast
EFAS, once fully developed and tested, would represent a powerful tool for the European Commission and the Member States for monitoring hydrological conditions across Europe, analysing climatology and trends over the past years in a consistent and homogeneous way, and for forecasting possible future trends when coupled with seasonal forecasts and climate change model output. Furthermore, through the trans-boundary nature of the EFAS simulations it is anticipated that exchange of flood forecasting experiences, data, and research results would be favoured.
The work on EFAS started in January 2003 based on experience gained during the competitive EFFS project (European Flood Forecasting System, 2000-2003) (Gouweleeuw et al., 2004) financed by DG Research. The system is to be built together with meteorological services and Water Authorities of the Member States. The Elbe and the Danube catchments have been selected as pilot catchments representative of typical trans-national catchments.