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POSTED 5.3.2024

Flooding story catches the media wave

Ireland has endured a particularly turbulent storm season with 10 named storms since September 2023 bringing devastating floods that have caused hundreds of millions of euro in damages to businesses and households across the country.

Indeed, the risk to flood-prone areas of Ireland is expected to worsen in the coming years as townlands become more urbanised, water infrastructure becomes more antiquated, and climate change leads to more intense periods of heavy rain.

CeADAR, Ireland’s Centre for AI, has responded to this threat by developing a state-of-the-art early warning system for Irish communities at risk of severe flooding so that they may never again have to repeat the extreme losses of recent months.

Using data collected by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite, researchers mapped historical flooding events in areas like Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Middelton, Co. Cork, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, and Limerick City. These maps were then fed into an AI model designed to predict the extent of flooding events in these areas. The model is accurate, researchers say, up to distance of approximately 20 metres.

It is hoped that the model, which forms part of the €9m CAMEO project to develop an Earth Observations services sector in Ireland, will be used to forewarn threatened communities ahead of periods of heavy rain, giving local authorities time to take emergency measures to limit damage to homes and businesses, evacuate residents and protect livestock.

Primed by scenes of severe flooding across the country throughout the previous autumn, the media showed great appetite for this story in January and February this year.

The story was covered extensively in both national and local print publications, such as The Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Irish Daily Star, Limerick Leader, Corkman, Westmeath Independent, and by online news sites, including Silicon Republic and TechCentral, among others.

Overall, the model story received 31 pieces of media coverage. These pieces were collectively viewed 816,000 times and were shared 350 times on social media.

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