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What is GloFAS?

The Global Flood Awareness System GloFAS is the global flood service of the European Commission Copernicus Emergency Management Service, an operational system monitoring and forecasting floods across the world
GloFAS is made of two complementary systems:

  • GloFAS 30-day, a daily hydrological forecast which provides a quick overview of upcoming flood events for the next 30 days
  • GloFAS Seasonal, a monthly hydrological forecast which provides river flow outlooks highlighting unusually high or low river flow up to 16 weeks ahead

The aim of GloFAS is to complement relevant national and regional authorities and services, and to support international organisations in decision making and preparatory measures before major flood events (particularly in large trans-national river basins). GloFAS only focuses on rivers, and does not provide real-time forecast information on flash flood risk or coastal flooding, nor on inundated areas.

The GloFAS system is composed of an integrated hydro-meteorological forecasting chain and of a monitoring system that analyses and updates results daily (GloFAS 30-day) and monthly (GloFAS Seasonal). GloFAS forecasts of possible flood episodes and unusually high/low river flow for all major rivers of the world are shown through a dedicated web platform, the GloFAS map viewer.

GloFAS is designed as an operational tool for decision makers, including national and regional water authorities, water resources managers, hydropower companies, civil protection and first line responders, and international humanitarian aid organisations. It has become an operational service in April 2018, following a pre-operational phase started in 2011.

The GloFAS map viewer

What forecast products does GloFAS offer?

GloFAS includes many different products for each of its services

GloFAS 30-day

  • River network probabilities

    River network probabilities

    Probability of the streamflow forecast to exceed two pre-defined thresholds (5-year and 20-year floods) within the next 30 days.

  • Threshold exceedance icons

    River network flood summary

    Maps of flood severity for three forecast periods within the next 30 days.

  • Threshold exceedance icons

    Threshold exceedance icons

    Overall evolution of the flood severity and associated probabilities for the next 30 days.

  • Forecast hydrographs

    Forecast hydrographs

    Time evolution of streamflow probability forecasts for the next 30 days.

  • Consistency diagrams

    Consistency diagrams

    Evolution of the forecast probabilities for three pre-defined flood severity thresholds in the last 5 daily GloFAS 30-day runs.

  • Precipitation maps

    Precipitation maps

    Ensemble median and probability of first 10-day precipitation forecast totals to exceed three pre-defined thresholds.

  • Consistency diagrams

    Rapid flood mapping

    Estimated 1-km flood extent based GloFAS river discharge forecast and a catalogue of modelled inundation extents.

  • Precipitation maps

    Rapid impact assessment

    Potential impact of floods on population and land use (agriculture, urban) aggregated over administration regions.

GloFAS Seasonal

  • River network probabilities

    River network probabilities

    Maximum probability of high (> 80th percentile) or low (< 20th percentile) weekly-averaged river flow during the 4-month forecast horizon.

  • River basin probabilities

    River basin probabilities

    Maximum area-averaged probability of high (> 80th percentile) or low (< 20th percentile) weekly-averaged river flow over the basin during the 4-month forecast horizon.

  • Forecast hydrographs

    Forecast hydrographs

    Evolution of the weekly-averaged streamflow forecasts over the 4-month forecast horizon.

  • Consistency diagrams

    Consistency diagrams

    Evolution of forecast probabilities to cross the high and low flow thresholds in the last 4 GloFAS Seasonal runs.

How are the forecasts produced?

GloFAS forecasts are produced using the latest ensemble of lower-resolution forecasts of the ECMWF IFS (Integrated Forecast System) (ENS for GloFAS 30-day; SEAS5 for GloFAS Seasonal) and a cascade of hydrological models and post-processing algorithms. This results in 51 possible daily forecast scenarios for the next 30 days (GloFAS 30-day), and 51 possible weekly scenarios for the 4-month (16 weeks in total) forecast horizon (GloFAS Seasonal). From those scenarios, probabilistic streamflow forecasts at 0.1° (~10 km resolution) are generated and compared with flood thresholds (GloFAS 30-day) and high/low flow (GloFAS Seasonal) thresholds to highlight river reaches and river basins where flood conditions, or unusually high or low river flow situations, are expected.
The GloFAS system
The GloFAS system: Input data and parameters (yellow), modelling chain (blue) and dissemination interface (grey).

How can I see the forecasts?

GloFAS forecasts are freely accessible to all registered users through its web-mapping platform ( Register here.

GloFAS map viewer and GloFAS products are tailored to give a quick overview of current and future hydro-meteorological situation, and of the ongoing and upcoming flood events. Additional information including detailed evolution of streamflow forecasts is provided for over 2000 static reporting points, complemented with dynamically defined points in areas at risk of flooding, but for GloFAS 30-day, this service is only available outside the European domain.

GloFAS map viewer is updated daily to automatically display the latest available GloFAS forecasts.

The GloFAS map viewer
The GloFAS map viewer

What is the skill of GloFAS forecasts?

Forecast verification is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a forecast system and to build confidence in results. It also provides additional information to help decision makers to assess how they can use GloFAS products to make decisions.

The overall GloFAS forecast performance is summarised using a set of skill scores which highlight different aspects of forecast skill, summarised in the dedicated GloFAS 30-day and GloFAS Seasonal pages. GloFAS performance is also regularly evaluated for specific events and case studies.

Example of global performance assessment result for GloFAS 30-day v2.1
Example of global skill assessment results for GloFAS 30-day v2.1 for lead time 5 days
The GloFAS team conducts rigorous quality checks and global performance assessments, presented in detail in the GloFAS wiki pages. In addition, users are strongly encouraged to conduct their own analysis to evaluate whether GloFAS forecasts are appropriate for their decision making. Please go to the data and services pages to find out more on data requests.

How can I access the data behind the forecasts?

GloFAS data can be accessed in three ways: GloFAS data access is subject to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service – flood forecasting and monitoring systems terms and conditions. For more detail, please visit the Data and Services page.

How does the GloFAS service evolve?

As a state of the art forecasting system, GloFAS constantly evolves to remain at the forefront of hydrological forecasting science and technological advances, and to respond to user needs. GloFAS development cycle is a 5-phase evolution process that includes co-conception with users to respond to their needs and address their feedbacks, research and development to integrate state-of-the-art techniques, rigorous testing for highest reliability and efficiency, operational production release and finally monitoring and evaluation of the service’s performance. A key part of the service evolution is through user engagement and community learning activities, including stakeholder workshops.

GloFAS development cycle
GloFAS development cycle
Depending on the degree of changes in the system (e.g. from simple bug fixes or changes in the appearance of the maps, to modification of the system configuration or calibration of the models), the development of a new cycle can take from weeks to several months, and for innovative science advancements even years.

How can I contribute to GloFAS?

There are many ways to get involved with GloFAS, from becoming a collaborator, contributing to the community learning framework, providing data or participating to regular workshops. Please go to the Get involved pages to learn more.

What is Copernicus Emergency Management Service?

Copernicus Emergency Management Service (Copernicus EMS) provides information for disaster emergency response as well as information for prevention, preparedness, response and recovery activities. Copernicus EMS covers:
  • meteorological hazards
  • geophysical hazards
  • deliberate or accidental man-made disasters
  • humanitarian disasters
The Copernicus EMS consists of two components: the mapping component and an early warning component.

The mapping component of the service (Copernicus EMS - Mapping) has a worldwide coverage and provides accurate geo-spatial information derived from satellite remote sensing and is completed by available in situ or open data sources.

The early warning component of the Copernicus EMS consists of three different systems: