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Cyprus

Island’s urban model will turn floods into catastrophes

The frequency of floods has been increasing at a steady rate due to the ever increasing human activities on physical floodplains

By Stefanos Evripidou

EXTREME weather conditions, such as floods, are expected to intensify in the near future and have multiple catastrophic effects due to the urban development model in Cyprus, according to a study by the Cyprus University of Technology (TEPAK).

The research project titled: ‘Integrated use of satellite remote sensing and hydraulic modelling for flood risk assessment at catchment scale in Cyprus’, also known as the SATFLOOD project, was co-financed by the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation and EU, and implemented by TEPAK.

According to a press release, the lack of general spatial planning in Cyprus (where the state influences the distribution of people and activities in various sized spaces) highlights the need to create a comprehensive information system which includes technologies such as satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) for the effective management of this information.

The Technology University’s website on remote sensing and geo-environment research notes that the increase in flood inundation occurring in different regions all over the world has enhanced the need for effective flood risk management.

As the frequency of floods increases at a steady rate due to ever increasing human activities on physical floodplains there is a respective increase in the financial and destructive impact of floods, says the section of the website related to the SATFLOOD project.

The project was launched three years ago with the main purposes of: mapping the change in urban development with the help of satellite remote sensing techniques using high spatial resolution satellites; creating efficient flood risk maps; and contributing to the management and reduction of risk for people, property, and the environment after such phenomena.

The study highlights the need for digital mapping of urban sprawl in a catchment area in Cyprus and assesses its contribution to flood risk. In addition, the project maps potential areas with high risk from floods.

The study area chosen for the project was the c in the Nicosia district. This area, particularly around Pera Chorio-Nisou and Dhali, has seen serious flooding over the years, culminating in the devastating flood of September 2009.

The findings of the project were presented in international scientific journals, as well as scientific conferences in Germany, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria and Greece.

The coordinator of the project is head of TEPAK’s civil engineering and geomatics department Diofantos Hadjimitsis. TEPAK worked with the following partners on the project: the Cyprus Meteorological Service, the Technical University of Crete, the Cyprus Water Development Department and the National Observatory of Athens.


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