Understanding the risks of future natural disasters

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How extreme can natural events get? What do they look like in a geographical sense, how do they interact with each other, and what’s the likelihood of them happening in immediate succession? That’s what I’m working on. As a case study, I’m building a model to explore extreme rainfall in Peninsular Malaysia (West Malaysia). This information is valuable for businesses like reinsurance companies, as well as for governments.

How do extreme events look like that we haven’t seen before? We built a model to explore it

Tell me more!

I simulated 10,000 years of rainfall in West Malaysia, using a statistical model.. Currently, there is no extreme rainfall data set  for this region. The model will also be applicable to other countries and other natural hazards, such as river flooding in order to better understand the risk of future natural disasters.

 In my research I introduce three different weather generators. One of them is purely parametric and quite conventional. In the other two, I introduce novel approaches. One of them reproduces low-frequency, seasonal and daily fluctuations using a non-parametric method.

Why is this so important

My research will enable insurance companies to improve their pricing models. With this new model, we can predict the risks of certain disasters in a way they haven’t seen before. For instance, how large can flooding or rainfall events get? With our model you can also see the correlation between different natural hazards happening at the same time in different countries, for example extreme rainfall and flooding. Is there a correlation between them? This model will help you explore this.

Biography

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I’ve always been interested in living abroad and exploring new horizons. After a study abroad and experience in Sweden, I finished my two degrees in International Economics and Geography. Thinking it would be time for a break, I worked in Tokyo, learned Japanese and met lots of interesting people from all over the globe. After being accepted for a masters at UCL in London, I moved back to Europe, and am now finishing my PhD at Imperial College.

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Social and Commercial opportunities

Reinsurance companies need a model to predict future extreme events. With this information, they can spread their risks, work more accurately and avoid bankruptcy. We use the information available from the OASIS Loss Modelling Framework. This is a non-for-profit organization aiming to deliver an open source catastrophe modelling service for (re)insurance companies, financial institutions and public bodies.

 Governments also benefit from this model. The US already has good models for hurricane risks, for instance in Texas or Florida. But in other countries, awareness is still low. Our models can give people in developing countries the opportunity to find out whether they live in a hazard zone. They might have return level (i.e. flood) maps already, but these are are often conventional and ‘simplistic’. Using our model, they can combine them with new information.By understanding the potential risks of extreme events, governments can also take the corrective or preventative measures.

My dream for this project

There are other people working on the OASIS project as well. One of them is focussing on hurricanes. It would be great to incorporate all of this information; this would be very valuable in the future.

My expertise

Natural hazards, Malaysia, flooding, weather generators, ARMA, Markov chain models.