The Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology

Forecasting Coastal Hazards


The first JCOMM Scientific and Technical Symposium on Storm Surges held during 2-6 October 2007 at Seoul, Korea Republic (JCOMM2007SSS) initiated renewed awareness of the need to improve storm surge forecasting systems that make full use of modern techniques and observations. JCOMM Expert Team on Waves and Coastal Hazards Forecasting Systems, ETWCH (re-named from the former Expert Team on Wind Waves and Storm Surges, ETWS, by the decision of JCOMM-4 in Yeosu, 2012), in collaboration with other WMO Technical Commissions and relevant UNESCO/IOC subsidiary bodies, continues to implement the scientific/technical recommendations from this Symposium, including coastal inundation and linkages to storm surge forecast and warning operations in all relevant regions.

As part of such efforts, UNESCO/IOC has established a pilot project to improve storm surge predictability by community models, in view of enhanced support for coastal hazard and management issues. This project was successfully launched for the North Indian Ocean, thanks to support from the Republic of Korea and India. At the first expert advisory workshop in New Delhi, India (July 2009;, the ETWCH provided guidance in consolidating the mid-term plan for model improvement. The progress was reviewed by the global / regional community through the second advisory workshop in February 2011 ( UNESCO/IOC continues coordinating this project and plans, in cooperation with related programmes and projects, to extend similar exercises to other surge-prone regions as long as the resources are available.

For many storm surge warning and coastal management applications the Total Water Level (TWL) at a given location and time is extremely useful. TWL is the total water level elevation resulting from the combination of storm surge, high tide, wave setup, wave run-up, and for some regions, precipitation and river flow. Operational technologies cannot presently predict TWL precisely. In order to build improved operational forecasts and warnings capability for coastal inundation from combined extreme waves, surges and river flooding events, the WMO Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project (CIFDP) was initiated jointly by JCOMM and WMO Commission for Hydrology (CHy). In the context of cross-cutting capacities, the project will support countries to establish collaboration and regular communication between scientists, forecasters, national meteorological/hydrological services and institutional end-users, to meet users' requirements and enhance response to coastal inundation risks.

ETWCH has established collaborating arrangements with the European Space Agency (ESA) in support of improved storm surge forecasting through the Earth Observation information. The ESA Storm Surge Project (eSurge)  is designed to develop a comprehensive database and user tools for storm surge events, supporting satellite data and model outputs that can be used to enhance storm surge analysis and forecasting. 



Regulations and Guidance for Forecasting Services

The operational procedure for services on marine meteorology (and oceanography to a certain extent) provided by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) follows the WMO Manual on Marine Meteorological Services (WMO-No.558:, and the WMO Guide to Marine Meteorological Services (WMO-No.471: For those specific topics of Waves and Storm Surge Forecasting/Hindcasting, the ETWCH has developed the Guide to Wave Analysis and Forecasting (WMO-No.702, as well as the Guide to Storm Surge Forecasting (WMO-No.1076,, and have kept these publications under review.

The ETWCH is also the JCOMM focal point for the WMO Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programme, contributing to the ongoing development of an operational guidelines for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS), and is fostering JCOMM partnership with related programmes and groups for coastal hazards, such as the Intergovernmental Coordination Groups of Tsunami Early Warning System and Integrated Coatal Area Management. 

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WMO Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project (CIFDP)

CIFDP Website: 


cif system recommendationThe WMO Executive Council at its 62nd session (Geneva, June 2010) emphasized the importance of a comprehensive and integrated approach for marine multi-hazard forecasting and warning system, for improved coastal risk management. In this context, this demonstration project had been initiated for building improved operational forecasts and warnings capability for coastal inundation from combined extreme waves, surges and river flooding events. 

The CIFDP aims to provide an example of cooperative work as a strategy for building improved operational forecast and warning capability for coastal inundation from combined extreme waves, surges and river flooding events,that can be sustained by the responsible national agencies. The main focus of the CIFDP will be to facilitate the development of efficient forecasting and warning systems for coastal inundation based on robust science and observations. The CIFDP should:

  • Identify and support end-user needs. In this context, full engagement of the stakeholders and partners in the CIFDP from early stages is critical for the successful development and implementation of this project;
  • Support informed decision-making on warning issuance and dissemination (that includes information on land-use and planning) in coastal zones;
  • Transfer and translate science and technology to communities (technology development and transfer);
  • Facilitate the development of a comprehensive Storm Surge Watch Scheme (SSWS) in basins subject to tropical cyclones and storm surges, jointly with (fluvial) flood events;
  • Facilitate the development and implementation of warning services;
  • Support coastal risk assessment, hazard and risk mapping.

A general strategy for a Coastal Inundation Forecast Demonstration Project (CIFDP) was adopted at the fourth session of JCOMM (May 2012, Republic of Korea), as follows:

  • The Project would be implemented under each regional/national sub-project, launched for a country that meets the essential requirement for initiating a national agreement between national institutions with relevant responsibilities, and the provisional establishment of a National Coordination Team (NCT) that includes operator(s) of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Service (NMHS);
  • The Project would be designed based on users’ perspectives and requirements, considering only existing and available open source techniques. Final products of the Demonstration Project should be operated and maintained by a national operational agency which has the responsibility/authority for storm surge warning and flood warning;
  • The developed procedure/best practice through a sub-project should be applicable to other (neighbouring) countries with common issues and interests, and should be closely linked to and cooperating with related projects and activities, such as WMO’s regional Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project (SWFDP) in building a “cascading forecasting process” to produce services for coastal zones.

CIFDP is being implemented through national sub-projects initiated by countries, with leadership and participation from operational forecast agency(ies) and in close coordination with the national coastal disaster management authorities. A critical part of the CIFDP effort is to provide evidence that the forecast system is suitably validated.  This requires

  1. a comparison of modeling system performance relative to available observations in past events;
  2. a demonstration that the system is suitably robust to maintain functionality for the complete range of storms (extreme events) and boundary conditions critical to inundation in an area; and
  3. a demonstration that the system is capable of providing information needed by local stakeholders and that this system adequately addresses the uncertainty in the forecast surges.

Further details on the CIFDP can be found on the project website:

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Partnership to support Research and Development: European Space Agency (ESA) Storm Surge Project, eSurge 


The European Space Agency (ESA) has recently awarded a contract for eSurge, the ESA storm surge project, to a consortium consisting of Logica (UK), NOC (UK), DMI (Denmark), CMRC (Ireland) and KNMI (NL). 

Recommendations and Actions of the first JCOMM Symposium on Storm Surges (JCOMM2007SSS, see serve as a baseline for the design of this project, which  will look at how Storm Surge forecasting systems and applications can be improved through the innovative use of ocean, land and atmospheric satellite Earth Observation (EO) data. The high level project objectives have been defined by ESA as:

  • To develop, demonstrate and validate the latest advanced techniques for retrieving high-resolution information on TWLE, wind speed and waves in the coastal zone from EO measurements that address storm surge requirements.
  • To further develop and provide validated coastal altimetry products (based on mature and existing altimeter retracking systems) tuned to storm surge events in a number of user defined Areas of Interest (AOI).
  • To provide access to other more general EO data products (e.g. SST, microwave wind and wave products and moderate resolution optical data for coastal inundation mapping) together with NWP, NOP and other socio-economic data that characterise ETC and TC storm surge case study events in a number of user defined Areas of Interest (AOI). 
  • To develop an extensive and open-access database (called the eSurge Event Analysis and Repository Service, SEARS) of EO and other data for historical and contemporary storm surge event (SEV) case studies, with interface tools to access and use eSurge data products, in a number of user defined AOI.
  • To provide a demonstration NRT service of user defined EO data products and eSurge services in support of operational and experimental forecasting and warning systems.
  • To design and implements, together with the eSurge user community, a number of reanalysis data assimilation and validation experiments for historical and contemporary storm surge events that demonstrate the impact of EO data on storm surge applications.
  • To encourage and assist the storm surge community to fully exploit the potential for satellite data for storm surge applications through dedicated training activities.

This project will be developed in close collaboration with the storm surge modelling and forecasting community, including the JCOMM Expert Team on Waves and Coastal Hazards Forecasting Systems (ETWCH). The initial project requirements were defined at a User Consultation Meeting (UCM) held in Venice in September 2009, and are being further refined through discussions with potential users. Additional User Surveys and User Consultation Meetings will be held over the project’s 30 month lifetime to ensure the community can give feedback throughout the project.

Further details are available on the project website,

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Support for regional capacity development: North Indian Ocean Storm Surge Project

In order to help improving storm surge predictability in North Indian Ocean region, the Advisory Group on enhancing the forecasting capabilities for North Indian Ocean Storm Surges, mainly composed of ETWCH members, are closely working with the regional modelling group of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi). The objectives and goals of this project were developed following the first JCOMM Scientific and Technical Symposium on Storm Surges (JCOMM2007SSS,

At the first Advisory workshop in 2009 (, experts in storm surge modelling;

  • reviewed performance of the current operational storm surge forecasting model (IIT-D Model) in the North Indian Ocean (NIO) region;
  • addressed requirements for upgrading and improving model performance, in terms of enhanced observations, operation for storm surge forecasting, research requirements, and capacity development;
  • set up the medium-term and long-term technical workplan for the project on improving storm surge forecasting capabilities.

Based on input from the advisory group, the 3-year workplan was agreed by the Expert group and IIT Delhi expert team, to improve the predictability of the IIT-D Storm Surge model. Priorities were set up and agreed in view of enhancing storm surge predictability through the IIT-D Storm Surge Model, taking into account; 1) ongoing plans and activities in the North Indian Ocean region; 2) timeline and workplan for IIT model upgrade, and; 3) feasibility of each recommendation.

The progress of this project was reviewed at the second advisory workshop, planned in February 2011 ( During this workshop, the IIT-Delhi working group demonstrated the enhanced model’s performance in hindcast/operational model, and moreover, provided a forum  for discussion on the regional development and applications of the upgraded IIT-D model, with storm surge experts from the NIO countries. The workshop also decided on the future course of action in view of collaborating and linking with related international programmes and projects, such as the JCOMM-CHy Coastal Inundation Forecast Demonstration Project (CIFDP) and the eSurge project which the IOC of UNESCO are supporting and participating in. Linkages with other regional projects/programmes was also deliberated and finalized.

Further details on this project are available at the workshop web sites:


Global / In-Region Training on Waves and Storm Surge Modelling 

The major cause of devastation and loss of lives was the storm surges when the tropical cyclones Sidr and Nargis hit the exposed coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar. While storm surge warnings are a national responsibility, the WMO Member countries agreed on the need of regionally available advisories on storm surges associated with tropical/extra-tropical cyclones, which would increase advisory lead-time and thus contribute to saving lives and properties. The network of Regional Specialized Meteorological Centers (RSMCs) that are responsible for the distribution of information, advisories and warnings regarding Tropical Cyclones (RSMC-TC) are requested to provide advisory on storm surges, gradually, with technical advice of JCOMM.

In this context, CIFDP is regarded as a project demonstrate feasibilities of integrated operational forecasting systems generating such advisory information, taking into account the national and regional requirements, through a multi-disciplinary approach. The developed technologies through these demonstration projects are to be actively shared with and applied to other neighbouring countries with common issues of coastal inundation.

WMO, jointly by JCOMM and the Tropical Cyclone Programme (TCP), has been conducting annual hands-on training workshops on storm surge and wave modeling. The objective is to enhance capacities of the National Hydrological and Meteorological Services (NMHSs) in providing necessary forecasting and warning services against natural marine hazards, which complement broader disaster preparedness and mitigation activities.

The Workshops were proven to be very useful exercise, especially for developing countries, to obtain necessary skills to apply available/open-source wind waves and storm surge models to their operational services. It has also provided fora to exchange experience and share technologies in modeling and forecast services between operators, and to discuss on common issues of the Region. Many countries participated in the Workshops were able to initiate running wave models and storm surge models in their operational agencies and use the outcome to provide forecasting services, and several countries successfully adapted the given models to the conditions of their forecasting regions and use them on an operational basis. As a follow-up to the Workshops, WMO also has provided necessary support for expert advice to NMHSs that tried to develop an operational modeling scheme.  This annual Workshop, together with the national sub-projects of CIFDP, is also a way to address the technical requirements of the regional Storm Surge Watch Scheme (SSWS).

Recent and planned Training Workshops:





Last updated on September 2013




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