EFFORS - Enhanced Flood Forecasting System for Critical Infrastructure Protection in Medium Size Alpine Catchments

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  • Flood Forecast in medium Size Catchments to protect critical Infrastructure
  • Use of Earth Observation from Satellite Communication
  • Satellite based Communication for increased fail-safety
  • Hydrodynamic 2D modelling in real-time
  • Implementation of the model chain

Meteorology - Hydrology - Hydrodynamic

   at ZAMG computer center in Vienna

  • Implementation of the system in three selected catchments, AUT (2), DE (1)
  • Dissemination of the post-processed results (SMS, email, www etc.) 

An international team composed of specialists for satellite communication, earth observation, meteorology, informatics, hydraulics and hydrology work hand in hand with user representatives, to elaborate a new system structure aimed at closely meeting the needs of the user communities.

Users and their needs

Participating Users in EFFORS: 

  • OEBB (Austrian Federal Railways)
  • Regional Hydrological Service of Styria (OSGH, watershed manager)
  • The Department for Disaster Warning and Management of the government of Styria
  • Department for Civil Protection, District Liezen
  • Energie Steiermark (Hydropower plant and electrical grid operator)
  • Verbund Hydro Power AG (VHP, Hydropower plant and electrical grid operator)
  • Fire department, City of Graz
  • Bavarian State Ministry of  the Environment and  Consumer Protection (BME)
  • City of Berchtesgaden
  • City of Rattenkirchen
  • City of Heldenstein
  • City of Oberneukirchen
  • City of Polling 

Innovation and Benefit for the User:

  • Avoidance or reduction of damage by providing predicted floodplains in real-time (increasing the warning time to protect life and infrastructure)
  • Satellite-based data transmission of hydrological observation stations

Austria, Germany

Service/ system concept



  • Wide range of presentation possibilities e.g.: areal presentation of floodplains, water depths, flow velocities and much more.

  • Hydrodynamic Information for any point
  • High resolution precipitation forecast in time and space
  • Hydrograph at a certain flow profile for the next 24 hours

Space Added Value

The System is based on two space assets:

  • SATCOM: ensuring quasi real time data communication in critical situations (floods) and in remote areas.
  • EARTH OBSERVATION: for improved land use and land cover. 

Earth observation: Land use and cover data serves as input for the hydraulic and hydrologic model to calculate the roughness parameter and parameters for retention capacity, evaporation, rooting depth etc. Depending on the used model, mono-temporal or multi-temporal EO information (e.g. on spring, summer and autumn) will be used for land use and cover classification. These satellite EO data are brand new additions to the system to obtain actual land use and land cover classification data with sufficient resolution. 

Satellite communications: Satellite communications is used to transmit the sensor data in near real time to the data processing centre. Satellite communication is not affected by events like floodwater, storms or avalanches. To reduce the costs thresholds are implemented so that satellite communication becomes active only when measured parameters overcome the defined thresholds.

For catchments with sensors in remote areas without terrestrial communication, then satellite communication is the only way to transmit data to the processing center. Outside central and western Europe the GSM coverage can be low, therefore Satcomm can fully utilize its strength.

Current Status

After the successful finalization of the feasibility study the EFFORS flood forecasting system is being developed during the demonstration phase.

Presentations about the project goals and the flood forecast system are held at targeted user like hydropower plant operators or transport network operators. The final user requirements are defined and a customer feedback about the economic benefit of the enhanced flood forecast is requested.

Starting from the user requirements, system requirements are derived to satisfy the needs of the users. Hard- and software requirements of the system are defined and transformed to detailed technical requirements of the system.

The business analysis is updated with customer information about the benefit of the new system.

Plans are developed for the utilization of the pre-operational service by the user during the demonstration phase and the operational service during the operational phase.

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Friedrich Woelfelmaier
Austrian Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG), Klusemannstrasse 21
8020 Graz

ESA Project Manager

Volker Schumacher
ESA ESCAT, Harwell Campus. Fermi Avenue.
United Kingdom

Status Date

Updated: 20 July 2017 - Created: 20 July 2017