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INCA Central Europe - Integrated nowcasting system for the Central European area (INCA-CE)
Start date: Mar 31, 2010, End date: Sep 29, 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Weather and especially severe weather is responsible for many natural disasters causing damage and loss of life. Weather forecasts are an essential part of early warning systems and consecutive actions within civil protection schemes, road management and flood protection. In the last years nowcasting, which is the forecast for the next hours, has improved significantly. Disasters at small time and space scales like hail or flash floods etc. as well as sub-events within large scale catastrophes like flooding and storms can be detected and managed. Nowcasting plays an increasing role in risk prevention, but its realisation is a highly complex and integrated task INCA CE will implement a transnational information system as well as applications for different socio-economic sectors to reduce risks of major economic damage and loss of life. Not only civil protection but also stakeholders from economic sectors are in a growing need of accurate and reliable short-term forecasts.The INCA-CE project specifically has the goal of setting up a web-based trans-national weather information system that uses state-of-the-art nowcasting methods developed by several countries. It will enable users in the public and private sector to take into account weather-related risks and hazards in a more timely fashion, more precisely, and in greater geographical detail. More precise information about heavy rainfall and associated rise of water levels (flooding) will help set up improved procedures in the management of mitigating measures for the protection of buildings, roads, and other infrastructure. Civil protection will benefit from a more comprehensive assessment of meteorological threats, and a more detailed and timely forecast, leading to more efficient warning protocols and dissemination strategies. Road safety will be enhanced by a more detailed road weather forecast made available both to the road management authorities as well as to the general public. Achievements: Major aims within INCA-CE are the developement of an integrated transnational nowcasting system with a clear link to the user level of nowcasting data. Therefore, the INCA nowcasting system has been successfully implemented at all weather services participating in the INCA-CE project. The exchange of weather data across national boundaries - crucial for a good performance of the system - has been established amongst the partners. Standardised input/output has been defined which makes the application of the system a lot more easier, and joint strategies for the use of nowcasting methods in the three application areas (operational hydrology, civil protection and road safety) have been developed. Hydrological institutions have created the necessary interface modules to INCA to couple their hydrological models to the nowcasting system. In pilot implementations, they already show the benefits of using state of the art nowcasting for flood and flash-flood modeling and warning. Civil protection authorities adopted the use of nowcasting information for securing large events (e.g. Lake Balaton area) and for the warning of severe storms (e.g. Lake Neusiedl area). Road safety benefits from the provided weather information for winter road maintenance. Salt spreading on roads is very time critical and needs to be planned according to snowfall and freezing rain events. The public profits from safe road conditions and a minimised environmental impact through reduced amounts of salt used (and not to forget the decrease of costs and in turn consumption of tax money). Generally speaking, a very good cooperation has been set up between the project partners and pilot implementations demonstrate the necessity of bridging the gap between weather service information and applications. So far, advances have also been made on the INCA nowcasting system itself, by improving the forecast quality of certain parameters such as wind, (surface) temperature and precipitation. This complex task involved combined efforts of all participating weather services. Additionally, a timely delivery of the data is now ensured through code optimisation which has been successfully finalised (parallelisation of the code). The most visible output, the INCA-CE web platform, has been refined and optimized and provides weather information for all stakeholders. However, future work is still planned with respect to adding further important parameters and improve the visualisation. Nevertheless, features such as zooming/panning and geographical overlays are already incorporated in the visualisation of certain parameters. The partners from the application side expressed their requests and recommendations within the transnational strategies. These requests are already fulfilled. As the different applications served in this project are quite distinct, special features have still to be implemented in the visualisation.
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