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September 05, 2019


Willis Research Network Hurricane Dorian Commentary

Dorian intensified overnight back to major hurricane status.Forecasts agree on a gradual weakening trend as it tracks parallel to, or over, the coasts of the Carolinas. Even so, Dorian’s large shield of strong winds will likely drive lifethreatening storm surge. Flooding rains and destructive hurricane force winds are likely in coastal regions.

August 30, 2019

Article (external)

Ridgecrest earthquake shut down cross-fault aftershocks

The Magnitude 7.1 earthquake abruptly halted aftershocks on the M 6.4 cross fault. It also produced a far-flung aftershock sequence that touched the San Andreas, but refused to cross the Garlock Fault.

August 07, 2019


The summer readers guide to scenario planning

With new developments in risk modelling, increasing computer power and the advent of big data, scenario planning is increasingly in vogue.

July 15, 2019


What do the Palu Bay earthquake, unexpected tsunami mean for risk models?

An earthquake and tsunami that had not been predicted by available models hit Palu Bay, Indonesia hard enough to defeat the early warning system. Are those models still applicable and what data is needed?

July 12, 2019


Using earthquake science to inform business decisions

Deepening the understanding of the science behind earthquakes through an award-winning collaboration of academia and the risk industry.

May 31, 2019


Assessing climate risk: How and why you should create your own view

As climate change activism is taking new forms, and new impassioned champions from younger generations are emerging to influence policy and decision making, large corporations are coming under increasing pressure from stakeholders to address climate risks. But what is really meant by climate risk? It’s a broad term that can mean different things to different people, so it can be a tricky risk to quantify.

May 29, 2019


7 key geopolitical drivers impacting the energy industry

Here are seven geopolitical drivers of risk that can serve as signposts for the energy industry.

May 28, 2019


Managing geopolitical risk in the energy industry

By considering geopolitical risk through six distinct lenses, you can view the exposures more clearly and recombine them into a holistic picture.

May 20, 2019


Willis Research Network Spotlights Series with Andreas Haggman

Andreas Haggman heads up the Emerging Risks hub in the Willis Research Network, focusing on geopolitics, cyber security, and future trends. He discusses his role with Willis Towers Watson and the direction emerging risks research is likely to take.

May 15, 2019


Geopolitical instability: Turning up the heat on the energy industry

Nascent trends of geopolitical instability continue to foster uncertainty and hazards in the energy market landscape.

May 10, 2019

Article (External)

We must learn what to do if the lights go out

Late last month, as troops at Fort Bragg, the United States’ largest military base, were conducting a deployment exercise, the power went out. For hours, the 50,000-odd soldiers and officers at the base struggled to carry on with their work, the inconvenience compounded by the fact that they had no idea what had happened.

April 30, 2019


Insurance, behavior and reputation: What happens when aviation meets insurance

A Venn diagram of the interests of the aviation and the insurance industries would show a pair of nearly overlapping circles. This is why conferences bringing together people from both are a valuable opportunity to learn from each other, and why Willis Towers Watson hosted its 17th aviation conference in Danang, Vietnam. It was impossible to leave after three days without having learned something new. Here are my top three lessons.

April 30, 2019


Willis Research Network Spotlights Series with Geoffrey Saville

Geoffrey Saville, Willis Research Network’s Senior Research Manager for weather and climate related projects, discusses his background and role with Willis Towers Watson. Gives a snapshot of a few current projects, before a few thoughts on future research needed by the risk and insurance industry.

April 16, 2019

Press Release

Willis Towers Watson is supporting Royal United Services Institute Modern Deterrence Programme to increase resilience to geopolitical instability

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WTLW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, has joined forces with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) to support RUSI’s Modern Deterrence Programme. The Programme investigates the changing and increasing threats to “Western” societies. Adversaries have targeted all parts of society and therefore deterrence against, and reactions to, such actions also need to involve Governments, business and civil society..

March 28, 2019


From catastrophe to data: The findings of Flood Club

Having catastrophe model developers, evaluators, users and regulators in the same room can be a great opportunity to tackle key challenges in assessing flood risk. The link between industry and research is not always one that every insurance company can make, which is why Willis Re recently convened a meeting of these professionals, known as the Willis Re Flood Club.

March 08, 2019


4 key geopolitical risks likely to affect aviation industry this year

Aviation is a sector inherently exposed to geopolitical risk because it is so visible. Whole societies depend on it, and it is seen as symbolic when it goes wrong. Aircraft crisscross national airspace, airports are targeted by disruptive and destructive actors and air travel is viewed as a non-green travel option. It is fragile and vulnerable to climatic extremes, societal and economic tension and weaponized technology.

March 07, 2019

Article (External)

Three independent models converge on the high earthquake potential of Los Angeles

Metropolitan Los Angeles is being squeezed from south to north at 8-9 mm/yr (⅓ inch per year), about one-fourth the rate your fingernails grow. This squeeze was the ultimate driving force behind the 1971 San Fernando, 1987 Whittier Narrows and 1994 Northridge earthquakes, three days Angelenos need no reminder of. These tremors were “thrust” earthquakes, in which the top side of the fault is thrust up and over the bottom side – the optimal way to accommodate a tectonic squeeze. The tolls of these earthquakes prompt a natural question.

February 11, 2019


How forward-thinking power companies are managing their geopolitical risks

Few businesses bestride the globe like those in the power industry, so it’s unsurprising they should feel the winds of geopolitical risk more strongly and earlier than most. Indeed, C-level executives from industries such as power recently ranked geopolitical instability and regulatory change as their top concerns, according to a recent World Economic Forum report.

January 09, 2019


WRN Spotlights - Dr. Greg Holland

Dr Greg Holland from the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, whose work in extreme weather and climate change, has helped develop important indexes and data for the Willis Research Network

December 21, 2018


WRN Spotlights - Prof. Adam Scaife

Professor Adam Scaife from the Met Office discusses how long range forecasting can help the insurance industry plan for events months and years in advance.

December 04, 2018


The 2018 Hurricane Season: More Active than Expected

What was anticipated to be a relatively quiet season saw two high-impact U.S. landfalling hurricanes. The 2018 season is one for the record books with communities still struggling to recover from the devastation.

December 04, 2018


Freshwater flooding versus storm-surge damage

An analysis of residential, single-family dwelling, tropical cyclone flood insurance claims.

December 03, 2018


WRN Spotlights - Dr. Chris Kilburn

Dr Chris Kilburn from the UCL Hazard Centre discusses how their research helps plan risks for the insurance industry.

November 30, 2018


A recap of Willis Research Network’s Autumn seminar

Insights from our latest natural hazards research and business applications.

October 31, 2018

Article (External)

Willis Research Network Renews Partnership with Global Earthquake Model Foundation

The Willis Research Network (WRN) announced it has renewed its partnership with the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation.

October 26, 2018

Press Release

Willis Research Network announces renewed partnership with the Global Earthquake Model Foundation

The Willis Research Network (WRN) is proud to announce its renewed partnership with the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation. The agreement represents a continued commitment to working collaboratively in order to develop and promote better understanding of earthquake risk.

October 17, 2018


Using games to mitigate people risk in cyber security

Having long languished as an underappreciated problem for organisations, cyber security is today widely recognised as a critical business risk, with 74% of UK companies rating it as a high priority for senior management. However, increased recognition does not necessarily mean that the problem is better understood. Cyber security is replete with impenetrable jargon and complicated concepts which often lead to it being incorrectly considered a problem for technologists that can be solved by IT departments.

October 15, 2018

Insights (External)

Finding of the unexpected tsunami due to the strike-slip fault at central Sulawesi, Indonesia on 28 September 2018, from the preliminary field survey at Palu

A strike-slip fault earthquake where epicenter located at the north part of Donggala District, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia suddenly triggering the tsunami with the reported water level up to 8m inside Palu Bay, about 50 km to the south-east of epicenter.

September 28, 2018


Willis Research Network: Issue No.8 – Autumn 2018

Welcome to the Autumn 2018 newsletter for the Willis Towers Watson Research Network (WRN).This quarterly update aims to provide an insight into our latest research and activities.

August 10, 2018


Are you ready for peak 2018 hurricane season?

While current predictions indicate a relatively quiet hurricane season, particularly in comparison to last year, it only takes one major hurricane making landfall in a built-up area to create a significant loss, as we saw with Hurricane Andrew in 1992 – a relatively quiet season overall. So, with the peak months still ahead of us (hurricane season ends November 30), what can we expect this year?

August 05, 2018

Article (External)

Mendocino Complex climbs to fourth largest wildfire on record in California; 68 homes lost

The Mendocino Complex fire continued to grow at an alarming rate, burning more than 266,000 acres by Sunday morning and becoming the fourth-largest in California history.

August 01, 2018

Press Release

The Willis Research Network’s new partnership with The International Seismological Centre

The Willis Research Network (WRN) is proud to announce the continued growth of its Seismic research activities through new partnerships with the EPICentre research centre of University College London (UCL) and the International Seismology Centre (ISC).

July 30, 2018

Blog (External)

Carr Fire claims 100,000 acres, 1,000 structures, and six lives in Northern California

As firefighters across the state battle 17 different fires, the largest, the Carr Fire in Northern California near Redding, has destroyed over 1,000 structures, claimed at least six lives, and has burned nearly 100,000 acres.

July 13, 2018

Award (External)

Congratulations to our member Tohoku University's Anawat Suppasri for receiving the Nakasone Yasuhiro Award

We congratulate Willis Research Network's member Tohoku University's Anawat Suppasri for being awarded the Nakasone Yasuhiro Award from the former Japanese Prime Minister. This award was given as Tohoku University's global tsunami research activities are highly recognized and evaluated.

July 05, 2018


What impact could changing storminess have on global fisheries?

What impact could changing storminess have on global fisheries? Fisheries are vital in supporting many of the world’s communities, as important sources of nutrition, livelihoods and cultural identity. However, they’re vulnerable to over-exploitation and environmental pressures such as the impacts of climate change.

July 02, 2018


Emphasis: Insurance and technology innovation

Emphasis is Willis Towers Watson’s global magazine for insurance executives. Our insurance industry experts offer connected perspectives on risk and capital management, strategy and growth, operational effectiveness and technology.

July 01, 2018


Willis Re 1st View July 2018: New Normal Emerges

Issued three times a year, this publication delivers the very first view on current market conditions within the reinsurance industry, covering the changes in pricing levels and conditions experienced by Willis Re brokers and product experts.

June 29, 2018


Willis Research Network Newsletter: Issue No. 7 – Summer 2018

This past spring saw the WRN host a series of morning seminars that touched on a number of different areas of interest for our industry. Topics ranged from natural catastrophe insight on hail, wind and flood events, to managing corporate risks and revenue at risk.

June 27, 2018


Learning about natural hazards: A recap of Willis Research Network’s spring seminar series

This past spring, Willis Research Network (WRN) hosted a series of morning seminars that featured a number of research projects and partners. Topics ranged from severe convective storms to corporate risk profiling, and included findings from some of the WRN’s latest scientific collaborations, along with current analytical projects underway in Willis Re teams around the world, with an emphasis on the latest events impacting our industry.

June 19, 2018

Article (External)

A Volcano Turns a Town Into a Cemetery

When the Fuego volcano erupted in June, its pyroclastic flows buried much of the Guatemalan village of San Miguel Los Lotes. Explore the damage in augmented reality.

June 18, 2018

Article (External)

Today’s deadly Japan earthquake could be related to the 1995 Kobe earthquake

At 7:58 a.m. local time, a M=5.9 earthquake struck Osaka, Japan, leaving 3 people, dead, and hundreds injured. The quake resulted in numerous collapsed walls, broken water pipes, and left 170,000 homes without power. Since the mainshock, over 100 aftershocks have continued to rattle the city, which is home to approximately 2.7 million people.

June 15, 2018


WRN Spotlights with Stuart Calam

Stuart joined the Willis Towers Watson Analytics Solutions team in 2012 to lead and manage the Willis Research Network (WRN), an award winning collaboration between public science and the insurance sector. Through the Willis Research Network he continues to work with Academia and Research institutes worldwide to develop research and insight for improving our understanding of natural catastrophe risk. In this video Stuart explains what WRN is and how well it is placed to understand the risks our industry faces.

June 15, 2018

Website (External)

Lloyd's City Risk Index

The Lloyd’s City Risk Index shows how much economic output 279 cities would lose annually (GDP@Risk) from 22 man-made and natural threats.

June 08, 2018

Article (External)

Geopolitical and security shocks rise across the world

The potential impact of geopolitical and security shocks on the economy of the world’s largest cities has risen by 16 per cent in the last year, according to the 2018 update of the Global Risk Index from the Centre for Risk Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School.

June 05, 2018

Article (External)

Hundreds More Hawaii Homes Destroyed as Lava Surge Fills Coastal Bay

Lava flows from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island wiped out hundreds more homes and then quickly filled a nearby coastal bay, officials said on Tuesday, pointing to a volatile new phase in the eruption of one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

June 05, 2018


Insights from the Willis Re Flood Club: the weaknesses and strengths of flood modelling

When industry experts gathered to consider the state of flood modelling, they discovered a disconnect between theory and reality that can leave insurers under some expensive water. So what’s next for modelling approaches?

May 29, 2018

Article (External)

Global earthquake forecast passes test

A newly-accepted study by the journal, Seismological Research Letters, analyzes the Global Earthquake Activity Rate (GEAR) forecast that is shown in Temblor.

May 25, 2018


Blockchain gives life to a 300-year-old idea

Blockchain technology is actually a new way to pursue an insurance distribution system that existed 300 years ago, an expert at Willis Towers Watson said. "This works like the way we used to do insurance 300 years ago,” said Magdalena Ramada Sarasola, a senior economist with Willis Towers Watson.

May 21, 2018


Geocoding: The underappreciated science of catastrophe modeling

Despite advances in peril mapping and geocoding technology, the geocoding process often remains a challenge. Here we consider these challenges and how the quality of the data can be improved.

May 12, 2018

Blog (External)

Preparing for disasters: a corporate catastrophe checklist

Cyber Security —or the lack thereof— is just the latest source of catastrophic risk, with a flurry of data breaches in recent months exposing consumer records across a wide swath of business firms, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. Cyber risk joins terrorism, financial crises, and natural disasters in disrupting the operations of many.

April 25, 2018

Article (External)

How bad will a Hayward Fault earthquake actually be, and what you can do to protect yourself

Last week the USGS released the second volume of the HayWired report, a scenario M=7.0 earthquake along the Hayward Fault. This volume focused on the impacts of the earthquake, which includes the estimated losses. Within this volume, two losses stood out, an estimated $82 billion in property and direct business losses, and up to $30 billion in fire damage. While $112 billion in losses sounds extreme, it pales in comparison to the $170 billion in direct damage the company CoreLogic projects.

April 23, 2018


Willis Re Reinsurance Market Report April 2018: Results for year-end 2017

Reinsurer capacity remains stable despite 2017 catastrophe loss activity and stress on underlying performance.

April 17, 2018

Article (External)

San Francisco’s Big Seismic Gamble

Sailors arriving in San Francisco in the 19th century used two giant redwood trees perched on a hill to help guide their ships into the bay. The redwoods were felled for their lumber at around the time of the gold rush, but San Francisco now has a new beacon: Salesforce Tower, the tallest office building in the West.

April 10, 2018


Willis Research Network Newsletter: Issue No. 6 - Spring 2018

Welcome to the first Willis Research Newsletter (WRN) of 2018, our quarterly update aimed at providing insight and updates from our latest research and activities.

April 10, 2018

Article (External - Subscription Required)

Solar flares pose catastrophic threat

Solar flares and storms may be a sight to see, but the rare events could do significant damage to the world’s power grids, causing blackouts and triggering heavy business interruption losses.

March 25, 2018

Research (External)

Risk Management and Insurance Review

Focus on Disaster Risk Financing.

March 09, 2018


WRN Spotlights with Heinz Jürgen Punge

Dr Heinz Jürgen Punge is the Willis Research Network Fellow from the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. The Institute analyses weather events and climates, focusing on thunderstorms and hail research. This is done by looking at satellite data and radar data to analyse the extent, the severity and the origins of hailstorms.

February 16, 2018


WRN Spotlights with Jeff Czajkowski

Jeff Czajkowski is the Managing Director for the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The Center looks at catastrophic events from both behavioral and risk management perspectives. Jeff's research focuses on economics of natural hazards and how people react to such catastrophic events. Find out more about Jeff's Willis Research Network projects.

February 02, 2018


WRN Spotlights with James Done

James Done is the Science Lead for National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) Capacity Center for Climate and Weather Extremes. James focuses on understanding high impact weather from local scales to global scales, understanding the physical processes behind catastrophic weather events. Find out more about James' Willis Research Network projects.

February 1, 2018

Article (External)

Mayon volcano eruption UPDATE: Mount Mayon ERUPTS in shock new footage spewing lava in air

Mayon volcano eruption UPDATE: Mount Mayon ERUPTS in shock new footage spewing lava in air MAYON VOLCANO has continued to spew ashes and lava in the air as its eruption continues to fuel fears in locals forced to seek shelter away from threatening mount.

January 24, 2018

Report (External)

Allianz Risk Barometer 2018

Business interruption and cyber incidents interlink as the major threat for companies through 2018 and beyond, according to the insight of 1,911 risk experts from 80 countries in the Allianz Risk Barometer 2018.

January 23, 2018

Article (External)

M=7.9 Alaska earthquake strikes off the coast of Kodiak Island, triggering a tsunami and questions

M=7.9 Alaska earthquake strikes off the coast of Kodiak Island, triggering a tsunami and questions An earthquake occurred in the Gulf of Alaska at 12:31 am local time this morning (9:31:42 UTC). The event was located 360 miles (580 km) south of Anchorage, off the south coast of the remote Kodiak Island archipelago. This region is no stranger to earth shaking.

January 10, 2018

Article (External)

Southern California mudflows triggered by fire and rain, with more possible

As rescue crews continue to search for those missing in mudflows that swept across areas scorched by the Thomas Fire just last month, another eye must be kept on parts of Southern California that could be hit by more mudflows. As of Wednesday afternoon, 15 people are confirmed to have been killed by mudflows in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Additionally, approximately 100 homes have been destroyed and hundreds of people are waiting to be rescued.

January 2, 2018

Press Release

Global (re)insurance market weathers one of the worst loss years on record: Willis Re 1st View

With recent catastrophe loss estimates in the region of US$136 billion, 2017 is proving to be one of the worst loss years on record for the global (re)insurance market, according to the latest 1st View renewals report from Willis Re, the reinsurance division of Willis Towers Watson, the global advisory, broking and solutions company.

January 2, 2018


WRN Spotlights with Ben Youngman

Learn about Ben Youngman, a Willis Research Network (WRN) Fellow from the University of Exeter. Ben's role as a Statistician involves building Statistic Models for extreme events. Find out more about the focus of Ben's research and WRN projects.

December 18, 2017


Willis Research Network Newsletter: Issue No. 5 – Winter 2017

Towards the end of every year people reflect on past events and try to put into context the defining moments of the last 12 months. When we do that for 2017, an extraordinary period of time across Autumn perfectly illustrates the continued impact natural catastrophes have on economies, societies, and countries.

December 14, 2017


Seasonal climate forecast for Europe

At this time of year, in the midst of contract renewals, property insurers are keeping an eye on the long-range forecasts for the rest of the winter in Europe. We’ve all seen the headlines in the tabloids about the next “big freeze,” or “stormy winter” doom and gloom forecasts, but what can we really say about the season ahead, and how that might translate into the weather we actually get?

December 7, 2017

Article (External)

As Southern California Fires rage on, here's how you can prepare, prevent & protect

From the small snapshots and videos viewed through TVs, phones and computer screens across the country, the fires erupting throughout Southern California look like something out of a post-apocalyptic horror film. Smoke so black it looks like night. Entire mountain sides painted red with flames. Homes on fire, people running – all while firefighters work without sleep in a race against the wind.

December 7, 2017


Congratulations to Tohoku University for winning the Poster Award at World Bosai Forum 2017

We congratulate Willis Research Network (WRN) members Tohoku University for being awarded the poster award in the category of academic research for their work with Willis Towers Watson on Global tsunami risk assessment at the International Disaster Risk Conference (IDRC) World Bosai Forum in Sendai, 25-28 November 2017.

December 1, 2017

Article (External)

Why Mount Agung's volcanic ash is a particular problem for aircraft

The eruption of Mount Agung on the island of Bali in Indonesia has emitted a huge plume of volcanic ash over the region, reaching more than 9km up into the atmosphere. This has disrupted flights over Bali and nearby islands.

November 28, 2017


The Willis Research Network Autumn Seminar Highlights

On November 1st, Willis Towers Watson held an afternoon of insight and discussion with the Willis Research Network.

November 23, 2017


Tropical Cyclones and Thunderstorms

On 1 November, we held our second London-based Willis Research Network (WRN) seminar of the year. After the last seminar in February, which focussed on seismic and volcanic risk, our latest meeting was a chance to showcase our latest WRN research into weather and climate related risks, following on from last year’s similar event. Our ongoing research partnerships have given us plenty of inspiration to build a relevant agenda.

November 22, 2017

Article (External)

Can changes in Earth’s rotation be used to forecast earthquakes?

Recent media reports have described a proposed relationship between earth rotation and the number of large (M>7) earthquakes. In contrast to these headlines and their exaggerated claims, the conclusions they report are uncontroversial and are based on a straightforward analysis of publically available data.

November 14, 2017

Article (External)

Bali volcano continues on high alert. What does it mean?

Mount Agung, in the island of Bali, is an important religious location for the locals: "The home of holy and evil spirits." It is also an active and deadly volcano. Since August 2017, as the unrest enters a critical phase and the volcanic alert level remains high, currently at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), it has been showing signs that an eruption is likely. Past deadly eruptive history of this volcano just over 50 years ago is spreading fears that a catastrophic eruption might happen anytime soon, and if so, it could have global consequences.

November 3, 2017

Article (External)

How models can disperse the dark clouds of volcanic ash

The aviation insurance industry can benefit from the schemes and tools developed for governments and civil authorities to manage volcanic crises and mitigate their impact on local economies

November 1, 2017


Storms, earthquakes and wildfires: a record-breaking 2017

A strong on natural catastrophes in 2017 has broken records. How might this affect the insurance markets?

October 31, 2017


Storms, earthquakes and wildfires: a record-breaking 2017

On 16 October the U.K. sky was suffused with a surreal sepia glow under a reddened Sun. It was the result of a combination of meteorological factors associated with the approach of Hurricane Ophelia. The rarity of such an unusual atmospheric optical effect for the U.K., was befitting as a harbinger for the peculiarity of Ophelia.

October 12, 2017

Article (External)

Hunting fires with cameras

Since Sunday evening, terrible fires have swept across Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa, leaving 23 people dead, over 3,500 buildings destroyed, 170,000 acres burned, and forcing the evacuation of over 20,000 people.

October 9, 2017


The Willis Research Network Seminar Video

Willis Towers Watson would like to invite you to an insightful afternoon with a range of prominent and respected speakers in the world of weather and climate risk, hosted by the Willis Research Network (WRN).

October 6, 2017


Willis Research Network Newsletter: Issue No. 4 – Autumn 2017

As we put together our latest newsletter from the Willis Research Network (WRN), it’s clear that the current Hurricane Season is well and truly making its mark. Hurricane Irma and now Maria have wreaked havoc across the Caribbean and South East U.S.A, only the 6th time on record that multiple Category 5 storms have developed in the Atlantic basin.

October 6, 2017


A Hurricane season of record breaking storms Part - 2

With every large storm, there are always questions concerning climate change. Can storms such as those we’ve seen in recent weeks be attributed to climate change?

October 6, 2017


A Hurricane season of record breaking storms Part - 1

Part 1: Hurricane season 2017 will leave many scars. A succession of September Hurricanes have left trails of devastation across many Caribbean Islands, as well as caused widespread flooding and loss across many southern states of the U.S. In fact, it was the most active September for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic on record using the Accumulated Cyclone Energy measure.

October 5, 2017


A hurricane season of record-breaking storms – Part 1: Historical context

Hurricane season 2017 will leave many scars. A succession of September Hurricanes have left trails of devastation across many Caribbean Islands, as well as caused widespread flooding and loss across many southern states of the U.S. In fact, it was the most active September for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic on record using the Accumulated Cyclone Energy measure

October 5, 2017

Article (External)

The volcano that shrouded the earth and gave birth to a monster

Two hundred years ago, the greatest eruption in Earth’s recorded history took place. Mount Tambora — located on Sumbawa Island in the East Indies—blew itself up with apocalyptic force in April 1815.

October 2, 2017


The Willis Research Network Autumn Seminar

Willis Towers Watson invites you to an insightful afternoon with a range of prominent and respected speakers in the fields of weather and climate risk, hosted by the Willis Research Network (WRN).

September 28, 2017


Volcanic risk: Separating the facts from the hype

Since Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in April 2010, wreaking havoc across European airspace, we’re now more sensitive to volcanic-related news.

September 28, 2017


A tale of three hurricanes

All eyes were on Houston as the unprecedented rainfall brought by Harvey turned much of the nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area temporarily into a lake. Then came Irma, and we held our breath as the giant storm wound a path that inflicted terrible damage but mercifully fell short of the worst-ever predictions that preceded it for much of Florida. And then Maria, hammering some of the islands that Irma had spared.

September 28, 2017


Volcanic risk: Separating the facts from the hype

Since Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in April 2010, wreaking havoc across European airspace, we’re now more sensitive to volcanic-related news. Let´s not forget that at its maximum impact, 75% of all European airline operations were closed, 10 million people were …

September 27, 2017

Press Release

Willis Research Network announces new seismic research

The Willis Research Network, the pillar between academia and the finance and insurance industries for leading global advisory, broking and solutions company Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW), announced the addition of two new members, bringing substantial expertise to its seismic research activities.

September 26, 2017


Risk megatrends in a changing world

Few businesses today have the luxury of operating within a geographic or industry bubble. Around the world, interconnected political, economic and commercial factors influence the direction and destiny of companies, both large and small, across a range of sectors. As a result, risks that once could be understood and managed locally have become ever-more challenging and global, while new risks seem to appear almost daily.

September 22, 2017


Devastating natural disasters continue to pummel Mexico. What does it mean and what’s next?

While Mexico is still counting the victims and assessing the damage from the last earthquake that struck the capital, estimated to be up to $10bn according to the USGS, we reflect on how the country is being hit left, right and centre by natural catastrophes.

September 20, 2017

Article (External)

Are Mexico’s two major earthquakes related, and what could happen next?

A burning question in all our minds is whether the M=8.1 Chiapas earthquake in any sense triggered the M=7.1 shock twelve days later and 600 km (360 mi) away. Their tantalizing connection is not just time and distance, but also their similar depth and mechanism.

September 14, 2017

Press Release

Willis Research Network partners lead university rankings

Willis Research Network, the research arm of the leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, Willis Towers Watson, is proud to have its partners heavily featured in the top university rankings.

September 13, 2017


The 2017 hurricane season: Will it transform the energy insurance markets?

In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the thoughts of our colleagues in the energy sector and insurance market are quite rightly ...

September 8, 2017


Deadly Hurricane Irma continues towards Florida

Sitting in a conference hall at Columbia University seems far away from violence and destruction being caused by Major Hurricane Irma. However, this conference (The Workshop on Atlantic Climate Variability – Dynamics, Prediction and Hurricane Risk) hosts some of the world’s leading experts on hurricane activity and how it is influenced by climate. This means that everyone is distracted and sharing updates on the storm as the presentations continue.

August 30, 2017


Hurricane Harvey: More exposures in the mix than just water and wind!

Sitting in a conference hall at Columbia University seems far away from violence and destruction being caused by Major Hurricane Irma.

August 21, 2017


Peak hurricane season is approaching. What can we expect?

Two months of 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season down, four more to go. With the peak of this year’s hurricane season yet to pass, so far we have seen seven named storms. None of these storms have become hurricanes, but echoes of hurricane Matthew last year still ring in those areas worst affected.

July 25, 2017


Seismic gaps as the sources for future tsunamis

A tsunami is a low-frequency high impact threat to communities and societies in coastal areas with the potential of changing the landscape in a very short time. Although landslide-induced tsunamis such as the one in Greenland, Norway, occurred on 18 June 2017 are dangerous, the most common and devastating tsunami inducing source is from earthquakes undersea.

July 20, 2017

Article (External)

M=6.6 earthquake near Greek andTurkish tourist hotspots likely ruptured the Gökova Fault

The large earthquake struck at 1:40 am local time near the tourist meccas of Kos, Greece, and Bodrum, Turkey. It was preceded by a M=2.5 shock approximately 20 minutes before the mainshock. The earthquake occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 10 km, and strong shaking lasted for about 20 seconds.

June 2, 2017


Hurricane season forecast: What to expect for 2017?

Atlantic hurricane season is officially here; it started yesterday and will continue through November 30. This is the time when most tropical cyclones in the Atlantic form, but not all. Take for instance, Tropical Storm Arlene, which was short-lived, weak and didn’t make landfall; however, she was the second named storm to occur in April since we’ve used satellites to observe ocean-bound storms.

April 5, 2017


Managing severe thunderstorm risk: Looking beyond the weather forecast

As we reach the middle of Spring, the U.S. hail and tornado season is in full swing. March is a changeable month, in weather-terms. There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb”. This mainly refers to temperatures, denoting the end of the winter’s cold weather at the start the month (the lion), followed by a warmer and fine end for many parts (the lamb).

March 30, 2017


Tropical Cyclone Debbie slams Australian coastline

Tropical Cyclone Debbie arrived in northern Queensland, Australia earlier this week. Ravaging winds and massive storm surge ran aground as the storm made landfall near Airlie Beach, north of Prosperine, during the middle of the day on Tuesday, March 28.

March 20, 2017

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Progressive approach to eruption at Campi Flegrei caldera in southern Italy

Unrest at large calderas rarely ends in eruption, encouraging vulnerable communities to perceive emergency warnings of volcanic activity as false alarms. A classic example is the Campi Flegrei caldera in southern Italy, where three episodes of major uplift since 1950 have raised its central district by about 3 m without an eruption.

March 16, 2017


Waiting for the dust to settle: The effects of volcanic ash on the aviation industry

In April 2010 Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, wreaking havoc across European airspace. At its maximum impact, 75% of all European airline operations were closed. Over seven days of disruption, 10 million people were unable to travel and airline losses reached $1.7 billion.

February 17, 2017


Earthquake hazard in a 3D world

The latest advances in computing now allow for 3D simulation of wave propagation; techniques simply not available to us previously. This will allow us to better understand the rupture and resulting ground motions of the largest earthquakes in greater detail. How can this new method be used to better assess earthquake impact?

February 10, 2017


Earthquakes converse by the transfer of stress: The strong evidence for short-distance, long-period interactions

During the 75 years before the great 1906 earthquake on the San Andreas fault, the San Francisco Bay area suffered at least 14 shocks of moment magnitude (Mw) equal to or exceeding 6; these occurred on all major faults, and included two events of Mw 6.8.

February 3, 2017


Earthquake aftershock zones are actually global

Within minutes after the 1992 Landers earthquake, seismic activity increased at widely scattered locations across the western United States at distances outside the aftershock zone (i.e., greater than 1–2 fault lengths) up to and beyond 1000 km from the Landers epicenter (Hill et al. 1993, Anderson et al. 1994).

January 30, 2017


What risks will emerge in 2017?

A look at the emerging risks for 2017 reveals two clear touchpoints: people and politics – and especially politics. Risk experts in areas ranging from human capital to transportation, from Washington, DC to Brazil are looking at the broad implications of political trends that could have profound effect on the global economy. The trends toward populism, protectionism and deregulation could change the risk profiles for many industries.

January 27, 2017


How well do we really understand earthquake potential?

The last decade has seen some of the most devastating earthquakes to society, with some 630,000 lives lost since 2000 due to earthquakes and corresponding cascading hazards like tsunamis and landslides—and economic losses of over US$ 500 billion. This could be even worse in the future with the increase in exposure through urban expansion, and vulnerability through building codes enforcement.

December 30, 2016


Latest on El Niño predictions for 2016: A looming La Niña?

El Niño continues to hold sway over global weather patterns, and its influence is likely to persist into Spring 2016.This is according to the El Niño Global Impact Forecast, a special report written by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research for the Willis Research Network, which examines expected impacts for February to April 2016.

November 30, 2016


How to model a windstorm

Storm Angus hit the U.K. earlier this month (also known as Nannette as designated by the Free University of Berlin). Although insurance industry losses are not expected have much impact on the reinsurance industry, the storm did produce high winds and heavy rain over the U.K., especially for Wales and Southwest England, and into parts of France.

November 21, 2016


The next large volcanic eruption in Japan. A source of concern?

The largest and most devastating eruptions have return periods of hundreds, even thousands of years, enough for populations and businesses to settle within range.

November 10, 2016


Space weather spawns earthbound risks

The University of Cambridge is taking on no less than the sun. As part of its Cambridge Risk Framework—a holistic analysis of the global threat universe—its Centre for Risk Studies* has produced the Helios Solar Storm Scenario, which quantifies the potential damage solar storms could cause the people and businesses of the earth.

November 6, 2016


A global assessment of tsunami hazards over the last 400 years

Last year, the UN General Assembly designated November 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day. To commemorate the day, many events and activities have been planned this year.

November 4, 2016


A global assessment of tsunami hazards over the last 400 years

Last year, the UN General Assembly designated November 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day. To commemorate the day, many events and activities have been planned this year.

October 26, 2016


After Amatrice: Unlocking seismic hazard. A race against time.

Italy’s earthquake in August raised questions about whether the seismic risk in the region has increased. Amatrice is an area of historical seismic activity where seismic hazard and risk studies carried out a few years ago anticipated that a future earthquake of this size was possible, given a relative period of inactivity.

October 19, 2016



The deadliest hurricane in 11 years has struck around a fortnight ago. After tearing a path through the Caribbean, across Haiti and Eastern Cuba, through the Bahamas and then along the east coast of the U.S., it was finally absorbed into a frontal weather system heading eastwards across the Atlantic.

October 14, 2016


Winter storms and hurricanes, all of an afternoon

The Willis Research Network workshops and seminars are always interesting events, and this year’s London seminar was no exception. Held on the 22nd of September, we focussed on wind extremes, specifically seasonal hurricane forecasting and simulating European winter-storm footprints.

September 15, 2016


Has hurricane season peaked?

As an ex-weather forecaster, and redoubled through my role working with the Willis Research Network, I have always been involuntarily drawn toward extreme weather. For me, the peak of hurricane season always brings both excitement and anticipation at the prospect of witnessing one of the most powerful forces of nature, but also anxiety due to the possibility that a catastrophic storm might make landfall and strike a population area.

July 21, 2016


Could a tsunami wipe out the U.K. coastline?

Tsunami is a risk unlike any other natural catastrophe: it has the potential to dramatically change the landscape in a very short space of time, leaving devastation in its wake. And as an island, the U.K. is potentially vulnerable to this natural catastrophe. But how great is the risk of a tsunami hitting the U.K. and how frequently could it happen?

June 9, 2016


A “drought” of major hurricane landfalls? Science weighs in.

Hurricane season is here. Tropical Storm Colin is the third named storm in the Atlantic basin this year, and has brought rough seas, heavy rain and flooding to Florida and parts of the east coast of the U.S. So far all three storms have been fairly weak without much impact.

February 1, 2016


When Winter Storms Cross Territories

In the United Kingdom, 2015 left many with the struggle of recovering from flood waters after a series of severe storms brought gales and heavy rain to many parts.

January 4, 2016


After COP21 How Can Insurance Help us Adapt to Climate Change?

A mix of hype, excitement, cautious optimism, scepticism and just plain cynicism has purveyed the world of climate science and risk management following the latest (21st) Conference of the Parties in Paris, otherwise known as COP21.

November 5, 2015


Progress in Assessing Tsunami Risk on a Global Scale

Tsunamis produce some of the greatest losses to lives and livelihoods of any disaster. They ignore country borders, bringing chaos and destruction indiscriminately. These rare events are difficult to study, but we have learnt many valuable lessons from two of the biggest tsunamis that have occurred in the last decade: the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and the 2011 Great East Japan tsunami.

October 30, 2015


Strongest El Niño in Decades

Seasonal forecasting is a developing science. Skill is required for the scientific production of the forecast, but also in interpreting the information. However, if there is ever going to be a good time to check these long range forecasts, it is now.

October 22, 2015


Climate Resilience and Graceful Failure

Extreme weather events are opportunists. They strike indiscriminately, and selectively expose the parts of society that are underprepared and most vulnerable. We see the lack of resilience to extreme events in the most susceptible regions time and time again in the loss of life and livelihoods and the destruction of properties and businesses.

August 28, 2015


Interactive Map of Hurricane Katrina

Only ten years ago the city of New Orleans, “the Big Easy” was left battered and broken by ravaging winds and unyielding storm surge brought in by Hurricane Katrina. Even though it was a highly anticipated and well-forecast storm, Katrina nonetheless caused unmitigated chaos and overwhelmed the city’s coastal defences and the capacity of its emergency responders.

November 10, 2014


Seasonal Climate Impact Prediction

We couldn’t possibly have anticipated Hurricane Sandy in advance of the season, or could we? Seasonal climate forecasts have been produced routinely for many years yet their uptake by the industry has been slow. Given that insurers and reinsurers live and die by high-impact weather and climate events why is this?

July 8, 2014


Japan Facing Early Season Typhoon: Neoguri

The 7th tropical cyclone of the northwestern Pacific season, Typhoon Neoguri (‘raccoon dog’ in Korean), has passed Okinawa and is bearing down towards the Kyushu region in the southwest of Japan.

May 13, 2014


Chasing Tornado Data: Exploring Three Decades of Violent Storms

U.S. tornado season is upon us. Tornadoes can occur all year round, but the most likely period in the U.S. is from early spring through summer.

April 22, 2014


Adapting to Climate Change: Weather Risk

Climate change doesn’t happen overnight. But it can happen relatively rapidly as we have seen over the past decades – according to the majority of scientists, we’ve seen a warming trend faster than most naturally occurring fluctuations.

March 4, 2014


Sunny Spells & Solar Storms

When the maelstrom of super-heated gas that is the Sun’s surface ties itself in a knot, the results can be both unimaginably powerful and blindingly beautiful.

February 14, 2014


Seasonal Forecasting: Understanding the “Crystal Ball”

Weather prediction improved leaps and bounds during the satellite era, and in recent decades computational capabilities have grown immensely.

December 3, 2013


Thoughts on the Midwest Tornado Outbreak

November isn’t generally known for tornado outbreaks in the U.S., but mid-way through the month a vicious and deadly swathe of tornados swarmed through the Midwest States of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Michigan leaving widespread damage and destruction in its wake.

July 16, 2013


Clean Air and Tropical Storm Frequency

Using the word ‘aerosol’ in everyday language might generally be associated with spray cans. However besides styling our hair or odourising a room, aerosols are known to influence various physical processes in our atmosphere.

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