ICHARM -- The International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management

Newsletter from ICHARM

Issue No.8 January 2006

In this seventh issue of our periodical newsletter we continue our focus on providing our national and international partners and colleagues with up-to-date information on the progress of the preparatory work toward the establishment of the centre in the fiscal year 2005.

--What's in this issue--

  1. Message from the Director of the Secretariat
  2. Recent Topics
    i. On-site Investigation in New Orleans, U.S.A. Concerning Storm Surge Damage by Hurricane Katrina
    ii. Conducted a JICA regional training course, "Flood Hazard Mapping"
    iii. Public Release of PUB Research Database
    iv. Scholarly Visit to ICHARM
    v. Publication of the Proceedings of the Workshops organized by Public Works Research Institute (PWRI) toward the establishment of ICHARM.
  3. Reports on Recent Conferences Attended
    i. 14th Conference on Public Works Research and Development in Asia
    ii. Feasibility study on improvement of meteorological and hydrological services in Lao PDR
    iii. Research Trip to Beijing in China
    iv. Asian Water Cycle Symposium
    v. 5th Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) International Planning Workshop
    vi. International meeting of ISO/TC113 (Hydrometry)
    vii. WMO flood forecasting initiative sub-regional expert meeting on improved meteorological and hydrological forecasting
  4. Information
    i. International Workshop on Flood Risk Management
    ii. New Logo for ICHARM


2. Recent Topics

i. On-site Investigation in New Orleans, USA Concerning Storm Surge Damage By Hurricane Katrina

At the end of this past August, U.S. coast line along the Gulf of Mexico suffered unprecedented damage from Hurricane Katrina with the death toll more than 1,300. COPRI-ASCE* organized a team specifically for the purpose of an on-sight data gathering and investigation. Mr. Tanaka, Senior Researcher of ICHARM, participated in the investigation as a team member and visited New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, which is located roughly in the middle of the U.S. coast line along the Gulf of Mexico and 80% of which sustained inundation. Mr. Tanaka was one of the two foreign researchers who were allowed to join the COPRI-ASCE team (the other one was from the Netherlands.).

The team concluded that this large-scale inundation was caused mainly due to levee breaches at several locations and storm surges exceeding the height of the design surge level and overtopping the floodwalls. The extent of the damage varies depending on the relationship between the height of the anti-flood facilities and the height of the storm surges. It is worth noticing that at a few locations, a part of the floodwalls was laterally shoved approximately 10 meters in a citywards direction. It is highly possible that a considerable amount of time and effort will be needed for the restoration of urban functions because of the flood waters that lingered for quite a while and the delay of the lifeline recovery.

Obviously, there are many lessons Japan can learn from the New Orleans disaster by storm surges since a number of its urban cities with vital functions are similarly located at sea level. To make the most of the lessons, a working group concerning storm surge measures for sea-level locations has been formed for the first time on September 13. The working group reached an agreement on what measures were possible to take at the third meeting on December 14 and has made the results available for the public on the website of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The final version of the ASCE preliminary report is accessible at http://www.asce.org/files/pdf/katrina/teamdatareport1121.pdf

Additionally, in the States, the investigation results have caught considerable public attention, and on November 2, the representatives of the ASCE team explained the investigation results in front of a committee of the Senate. (For details, visit the website at http://www.asce.org/asce.cfm)

UNESCO-IHE (Delft, Netherlands)

Prof. Richard Meganck, Director of UNESCO-IHE(Left)



3. Topics

- A Committee to discuss the current trend of extreme rain events in Japan -


We have formed a committee in collaboration with the hydrologic engineering research team consisting of specialists and administrative officials in the fields of meteorology and hydrology to examine the current trend of extreme rain events in Japan. We held the second committee meeting on November 4, 2004. This year Japan has so far been hit by 10 typhoons, a new annual typhoon record. Those typhoons caused extremely great damage in many regions of Japan. Although the media reports that statistical data demonstrates an upward trend of the frequency of extreme events, this phenomenon has a variety of interpretations depending on analyzed meteorological data, definition of extreme event and time and spatial scales of consideration. The target of this committee is to discuss freely different interpretations of historical meteorological data between flood managers and meteorological services. We will hold the third committee on December.


- JICA's new training course on "Flood Hazard Mapping" -

We are preparing for the JICA's new training course on "Flood Hazard Mapping", to be conducted in Tsukuba, Japan from January 25, 2005 to February 19, 2005. This training course starts in fiscal 2004, as a regional-focused training course for the East and Southeast Asian countries, and will accept 16 trainees (2 from each country) each year for five years. It is aimed at mitigating flood damages in the Asia monsoon region by providing technical managers and engineers engaged in flood or river management in the public sector with the practical techniques to produce flood hazard maps, and by enhancing their understanding of the map's effectiveness. The curriculum will be composed of lecture courses, grouped field exercises, and site visits to some municipalities and main river management offices. The General Information has already been sent to each country through the JICA offices. We are now recruiting trainees.


4. Recent activities and future schedule

Conferences We Attended

International Symposium on Living with Risks (Seoul, South Korea)

Date: September 20-23, 2004
Organizer: WMO/UN-ESCAPTyphoon Committee

The objectives of this Symposium include discussion on the progress of "Flood Hazard Map Project" led by MLIT and Infrastructure Development Institute-Japan (IDI), and preparation of a test hazard map in the actual field through "Town-watching". Mr. IKEDA from the Secretariat joined the symposium to introduce a training course on "Flood hazard mapping", which PWRI is now preparing for JICA to start from this fiscal year.

International Conference on "Climate Change: a challenge or a threat forwater management"(Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Date: September 27-29, 2004
Organizer: International Water Association (IWA)

Mr. IKEDA made a presentation on "Flood management under the climatic variability and its future perspective in Japan". During the conference, the outcomes of research and investigation related to climate change and water resources were presented by the participants from various countries, mostly from the Netherlands. The reported outcomes will serve as a useful reference for the future activities of the new UNESCO Centre.  

The first workshop with China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR)

Date: October 13, 2004
Organizer: PWRI, IWHR

PWRI and IWHR conducted a research collaboration agreement on February 2003 and started a joint research project on flood management policy on the Chanjiang River. A hydrological model developed mainly by PWRI has been used in a research project at IWHR. At this workshop, assessments of the progress of these projects and discussion on other possible collaboration areas were made. And it was agreed to start information exchange with the International Research and Training Center on Erosion and Sedimentation in Beijing, which is one of seven UNESCO-IHP centers.

The 14th UNESCO-IHP Training Course (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Date: October 11-15, 2004 Organizer: UNESCO Jakarta Office and Nagoya University The 14th UNESCO-IHP Training Course was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia hosted by the Humid Tropic Center (HTC-KL). More than 40 professionals participated in the course from Asia. This course was composed of two parts. The first one was a lecture session where Mr. Ikeda made a presentation on the planning of the UNESCO-PWRI Centre. In the second part, the lecturers and the participants of the past and current courses reviewed the achievements of the UNESCO-IHP training courses and made discussion to make the training courses more productive.

The 12th Session of the WMO Commission for Hydrology (CHy-XII) (Geneva, Switzerland)

Date: October 19-29, 2004
Organizer: WMO

Mr. TERAKAWA and Mr. YOSHITANI participated in the 12th session of the WMO Commission for Hydrology in Geneva as the Japanese delegation. About 150 professionals from 52 National Hydrological Services and related organizations participated in this quadrennial commission and discussed achievements of the past 4 years and activity plans for next 4 years, including various international programs such as hydrological observation, management of hydrological data and hydrological prediction.


 Coming Events

 Open house of PWRI & NILIM, 'Civil Engineering Day'

November 20, 2004 9:30-15:00 (reception: until 14:00)
Place: Public Works Research Institute (PWRI), Tsukuba, Japan

PWRI is going to have an open house in collaboration with NILIM (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management). We would like to offer you a good opportunity to become familiar with civil engineering technologies. We plan to use a 'Rainfall Experience Car' (belonging to MLIT Kanto Regional Bureau), so that you can experience heavy rain (from 10 to 300mm/hour). You can also get nice presents if you join a stamp rally going around other experimental facilities. Please come to our institute with your family.

For more information click here

International Conference on Water Sensitive Urban Design: Cities as Catchments

November 21-25, 2004
Place: Adelaide, Australia

This conference aims to explore the relationship between WSUD (Water Sensitive Urban Design) principles and the sustainability of urban and regional areas, to learn about recent experiences and to tease out the greatest threats and opportunities that may be specific or common to particular urban settings. Mr. YOSHITANI is planning to introduce the Water Master Plan of the Tsurumi River in Japan as a successful case of integrated water resource management.

International Workshop "Water and Disasters"

December 13-14, 2004
Place: London, Canada

This workshop will provide an interdisciplinary environment to discuss a variety of international, national and local initiatives aimed at minimizing the negative impacts of water-related disasters. One of the sessions will be organized by the Secretariat in cooperation with IFNet and JWF. The output of the conference is going to be introduced at the conference in Kobe next January, see hereafter.

For more information click here

Updated Information of Our Website

"Flood in Changjiang River -Comparison between 1954 and 1998 floods-" -->Seminar Report

Announcement of next issue:

The next issue, to be published around January 2005, will introduce our research activities such as WWAP (World Water Assessment Program).


6. Organization of ICHARM and new contact number

At the reorganization of PWRI on 6th March 2006, the Secretariat for Preparatory Activities of UNESCO-PWRI Centre was removed, and the International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management under the auspices of UNESCO (ICHARM) was established.

The centre consists of one Group (Water-related Hazard Research Group) and three Teams (International Technical Exchange Team, Disaster Prevention Research Team and Hydrologic Engineering Research Team). New contact numbers and e-mail addresses are as follows:


This newsletter is distributed via e-mail. It can also be downloaded from PWRI's website. Those of you who wish to subscribe or unsubscribe to our mailing list, please contact us by e-mail. We welcome any comments or requests from you, via e-mail, for making this newsletter more effective and informative one.

Issued by: Secretariat for Preparatory Activities of UNESCO-PWRI Centre,

Public Works Research Institute (PWRI)
1-6 Minamihara Tsukuba Ibaraki 305-8516, Japan
Tel : +81-29-879-6809 Fax : +81-29-879-6709
E-mail: whrm@pwri.go.jp
URL: http://www.unesco.pwri.go.jp/