Here is a brief explanation of the top 3 topics that we felt were most important to understand:
1) Understanding natural variability
This centres around whether the windstorm activity we've seen in recent years (lower windstorm activity, more storms in France, fewer in the UK) is part of a trend (which may be driven by climate change) or just natural variability. If it's more likely a trend, then inclusion in catastrophe models or in views of risk seems sensible. What would happen if we re-ran history 50 times? Would we see the same behaviour or has what we've seen in the last 20-25 years been just down to the capriciousness of natural variability?
2) Understanding tail risk
One of the areas raised by a few of the group was the suggestion that windstorm footprints in the tail of catastrophe models were a concern: they tended not to resemble what we've seen in history and some felt it was altering the correlation seen in catastrophe models. We are now entering a realm of high-resolution climate models, and it was felt a "second set of eyes" would be useful from such models. (This is something that I am working with the University Reading, Climate-KIC and Lighthill Risk network on in Spring 2018 and will be subject of a future blog post).
3) Correlation between wind and flood
The 1989/90 winter season was a benchmark for multiple notable windstorms: but that season isn't talked about for being noteworthy for flooding. The 2013/14 season was noted for the flooding. It also was for its storminess, but was nowhere near as notably stormy as the 1989/90 season. The group wanted to understand more about what happens in the tail. Do notably active (i.e. damaging) windstorm seasons go hand-in-hand with flooding, or is there less of a correlation?
Understanding clustering better for severe windstorms was one of the questions raised. We only really have one stand-out winter - 1989/90 to use from a historical perspective. Shown here is satellite imagery of Windstorms Daria, Herta, Vivian and Wiebke from that winter. Imagery from NERC Satellite Receiving Station, Dundee University: www.sat.dundee.ac.uk
This list will be held permanently in due course on the Lighthill Risk Network website. It's there for all to see and use as they see fit. But: do you disagree (or indeed agree) with this order? If so, I would love to hear from you, especially if you're not a meteorological specialist and a cat modelling practitioner: I can send you this list and the explanations of each topic to get your take on where you'd feel you'd spend your nominal £1000.
This work is hopefully just the beginning. Plans are afoot to organise a follow-up question-gleaning exercise on flood, and in an ideal world it would move onto other perils/regions. If necessary, we can revisit the question list every, say, two years to freshen it up.
Already, the Natural Environment Research Council are potentially looking to mould a research call around this. It would be terrific if this went ahead: industry-led, well-targeted questions that feed into partnered academic research. The questions posed here have answers that may help improve our catastrophe models or at the very least help those of us in risk-taking entities by improving the scientific knowledge behind our views of risk.
About Richard Dixon:
Richard has spent the last 17 years in the insurance industry building and researching catastrophe models at a model vendor and then evaluating them whilst working for brokers and reinsurers. He now is a consultant to the insurance industry at CatInsight, specialising in model evaluation. Most recently he was Head of Catastrophe Research at Hiscox, being responsible for their internal "View of Risk". Prior to working in the insurance industry, he obtained a PhD in meteorology at Reading University, specialising in extra-tropical cyclones. For more information, visit Richard Dixon's blog: www.catinsight.co.uk.
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