Improved forecasting and risk management for the water transport sector – IMPREX Fact Sheet

Cover Improved forecasting and risk management for the water transport sector
adelphi 2019: Improved forecasting and risk management for the water transport sector. IMPREX Fact Sheet. adelphi.

Water is a vital natural resource and, as such, an integral part of our environment and climate system. Excessive water exposure during flood conditions and water scarcity during droughts pose fundamental risks to life and weaken socio-economic resilience. Present-day water management in many sectors has to be able to cope with extreme hydrological conditions.

The European research project IMPREX (IMproving PRedictions and management of hydrological EXtremes) was funded under the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020. The project consortium, consisting of 23 renowned partners from nine countries, took up the challenge of developing methods and tools to improve predictions of hydro-meteorological extremes. The research focused on adapting climate information to the needs of six core sectors: flood risk assessments, hydropower, water transport, urban water management, agriculture and droughts. 

adelphi has developed a fact sheet for each sector. These describe and explain the most important products, provide practical examples, analyse implementation challenges for practitioners and show how IMPREX products can facilitate processes. The fact sheets are based on the work carried out within the context of the IMPREX research project and interviews with involved stakeholders.

Inland waterway transport along free-flowing rivers, such as the Rhine, is susceptible to hydrological phenomena such as droughts or high discharge events, affecting safety and efficiency. This fact sheet presents two innovative approaches to hydro-meteorological forecasting. These can boost the operational efficiency of the European water transportation sector and help mitigate the vulnerability of waterway transport to hydro-meteorological extremes, particularly low flows. The IMPREX project developed a pre-operational probabilistic water level forecasting system covering up to ten days and a probabilistic forecasting system covering up to six weeks for traffic and transportation on waterways. The forecasts provide companies with a stronger basis for better logistics planning, enabling them to take advantage of the maximum possible vessel load capacity. Decision makers can also factor in any necessary transportation restrictions caused by floods; longer lead-times of forecasts increase companies’ economic efficiency.

EnBW, one of the largest energy supply companies in Germany, has worked closely with IMPREX for two years, testing and implementing the system successfully. This case study shows that the probabilistic forecasting products developed by IMPREX help to make waterway transport more reliable and more efficient. More efficient decision-making processes will ultimately improve safety on European waterways and increase economic efficiency.

Further fact sheets from this project:

Policy recommendations:

Comprehensive brochure: