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The Willis Research Network

Newsletter – June 2017

Welcome to the Willis Research Network (WRN) quarterly newsletter.

Throughout April and May every year there is much interest in how seasonal hurricane forecasts can give us insights as to how many storms we are likely to see over the coming months. Following a number quiet years, will this season be any different? This quarter, featured work with NCAR and Columbia University on Seasonal Forecasting gives us clues on what we could expect in terms of severe weather.

Elsewhere we have seen some notable annual reports recently published which offer insight and response to the global challenges of resilience. The Cambridge Global Risk Index 2017, released earlier this year, and the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction by UNISDR both promise new ways of measuring and managing risk.

Finally, we’d like to quickly draw your attention to an updated Willis Research Network website, especially our partners page which brings the breadth and reach of the Willis Research Network to life. At this time of year we can see updated publications of annual university rankings by bodies such as the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings. WRN partners continue to feature heavily, with 6 of our partners appearing across the Top Ten in the surveys. Congratulations to everyone involved.

As always, please do feel free to send back any feedback or queries on this, or anything else highlighted in this newsletter


The Willis Research Network

Hurricane season 2017

As the academic and insurance communities debate the latest forecasts for hurricane season, Willis Re and the WRN make some sense of the range of forecasts available, by providing a view of the coming hurricane season.

Seasonal forecasts of hurricane activity are generally represented as a range or midpoint of a range of the possible number of storms, which increases or decreases based on the conditions. In May, Dr James Done, WRN Fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, gave a webinar to introduce the factors that are affecting this year’s forecast. He also presented a summary of last season and what the latest forecasts are indicating for Hurricane Season 2017. A recording is webinar is available at this link (the password is “WRe2017”).

James also provides regular updates on the seasonal forecasts that are being produced by a variety of centers around the world. His latest report is here. We also released a blog to accompany this report as a teaser. Look out for two more which will be released as the season develops, along individual storm eVENT Response updates, augmented with WRN commentaries on storms that are likely to have an impact on the coastlines.

Dr Greg Holland and Dr James Done also hosted the latest Engineering for Climate Extremes Workshop at NCAR, bringing together a range of partners and community representatives to discuss new tools and data in development to improve climate resilience.

Severe Convective Storms in the U.S. and ENSO

Spring of 2017 saw the release of a new experimental forecast system developed by Columbia University, to give an indication of potential for damaging tornados or hail events. The research and development of the project was sponsored by the Willis Research Network to offer underwriters a view of severe convective storm risk. The forecasts work by predicting the large scale environmental conditions and condensing them into indices. The Hail Environment Index (HEI) and Tornado Environment Index (TEI) is delivered for the contiguous U.S. at the beginning of each month and indicates relative risk levels for the month ahead.

Image source: Dept. of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University.

It can be delivered via spatial key to overlay with client portfolios (thanks to the help of Matthias Schmid, catastrophe model developer at Willis Re). Earlier in the year Prasad Gunturi (EVP at Willis Re) worked with WRN partner Dr Michael Tippett and his team at Columbia University, to produce a joint report which describes the impact of ENSO on tornado and severe hail frequencies - a key element which provides a level of predictability for the monthly forecasts. The report was picked up by the press via multiple media outlets (e.g. Artemis). Further work is planned to build on the HEI and TEI forecasts, developing a ENSO-conditioned event rates, which may provide added applicability to the forecasts.

Volcanic ash impact on the aviation industry

In May and June, the Willis Research Network and its WRN member the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), a world-renowned institution in the development of computer applications for science and engineering (CASE), took part in the International Aviation Insurance Course, offered to our Aerospace clients.

The BSC showcased cutting-edge tools to assess the impact of volcanic ash on the aviation industry during an ongoing eruption, and for currently dormant but potentially active volcanoes. In support, the BSC CASE Director José María Céla, described the various lines of leading research done at the centre and introduced Dr. Alex Martí and Dr. Arnau Folch, who used the tool to show two simulations of potential eruptions originating in different parts of the globe and impacting busy airports in London and Jakarta.

Volcanic ash dispersal from 2010 Eyjafjallajokull eruption using Fall3d Image source: Barcelona Supercomputing Center

To bridge the gap between science and industry, WRN member BSC is working on the development of solutions for air traffic management (ATM) in the event of volcanic ash presence in the atmosphere. This initiative is aimed at merging volcanic ash model forecasts and ATM databases (airports, routes, FIRs and flights) to evaluate impacts based on user-defined criteria; such as concentration threshold and maximum engine dose for volcanic ash. The tools can also be adapted to account for the impact of mineral dust and fog. See blog for further details.

Other items of interest

Science for Disaster Risk Management 2017: Knowing better and losing less
(link here)
DRMKC, European Commission

2017 Energy Market Review
(link here)
Willis Towers Watson

University of Cambridge Judge Business School
Natural Catastrophe Risk Management and Modelling: A Practitioner’s Guide
(link here)
Wiley Publications

Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction
(link here)

Cambridge Global Risk Outlook for 2017
(link here)
University of Cambridge

Assessing Current and Future Freshwater Flood Risk from North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones via Insurance Claims
(link here)
Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center

For more information on any of the research above or other WRN projects you are most welcome to get in touch with the management team:

  • Rosa Sobradelo (WRN Senior Research Manager: Earth Risk Hub) for seismic and volcanic risks
  • Geoffrey Saville (WRN Senior Research Manager: Atmospheric Risk Hub) for weather and climate related risks
  • Stuart Calam (WRN Programme Manager) for general enquiries and getting involved

Or you can contact the whole team through wrn@willis.com or provide anonymous feedback via a short survey here .

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Willis Research Network

Managing risk and delivering resilience into the re/insurance industry

Recent Events

6th International Summit on Hurricanes and Climate Change: From Hazard to Impact.

June 5th to 8th, Crete, Greece.

6th Workshop on European Storms

21st to 23rd June 2017 University of Reading, U.K.

The 2017 Risk Summit: Managing Risk in a Smarter World

June 22nd & 23rd, Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies, UK.

Upcoming Events

Royal Meteorological Society Annual Conference 2017 - Weather and Climate Impacts

13th July 2017, University of Exeter, U.K.
More details here

Contact us or subscribe to future newsletters

Email: wrn@willis.com

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