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The University of the Philippines Diliman National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP NIGS), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), and Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), jumpstarted its collaboration on a project that will provide a more accurate flood forecasting for a better early warning system in the Philippines. The one-year project, entitled “Quantified Flood Forecasting Through Rain Rate Estimation Using Satellite Imagery and Generalized Watershed Runoff Calculations” officially started on November 25, 2010.

According to project leader Dr. Carlos Primo C. David of UP NIGS, “The recent series of tropical cyclones that hit Luzon including Metro Manila have brought unprecedented rainfall levels that caused severe flooding in affected areas that resulted to loss of life, damage to the ecosystems, health effects and damage to property causing significant economic consequences.” An example is Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) where it brought a month’s amount of rainfall within a day. A contributor to this devastating event is the overflowing river channels.
With the continuous endeavor on disaster mitigation by various institutions, this project will instigate flood forecasting using rain rate estimation. The project aims to develop a software that will automatically download satellite images from Multi-functional Transport Satellite (MTSAT) of the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). Through these images, forecasted rain rates will be available and used to determine if the amount of rainfall will let the river channels overflow. Also, the project will develop a flood model that involves the use of software for GIS map generation.

ASTI will essentially provide access on the use of its high performance computing facility to run the rain rate software; data storage; as well as provide webhosting services for the project’s website.

The success of this project is expected to bring about immense benefits. The effectiveness of the flood forecasting in the pilot testing area can be applied to other areas in the country. It will greatly help in disaster prevention and preparedness and water management that in turn will result to a minimal or even zero percentage of loss of life and damage to property. In addition, vital information will be provided for everyone if such event occurs and needs fast decision-making.

The agencies involved have been conducting meetings for the initial mobilization of the project. The project is funded by the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD).