Extreme weather and climate events represent major societal risks, both for human health and for economic activity. For instance, Belgian insurance companies estimated the total of the damage claims due to the so-called Pentecost storm in 2014 at about 650 million EUR. In a recent study IRM-KMI estimated for the 2075-2099 period an increase in the number of heatwaves in the Brussels Capital Area with a factor of three to four. Weather forecasters, who inform the population on when and how to take measures, critically rely on numerical weather prediction (NWP) models to predict such extreme weather events. Climate impact studies are performed with high-resolution regional climate models that are of the same type as the NWP models. IRM-KMI is contributing to the development of the weather and climate models that are the most important tools to address these societal needs, and has even taken a leading role in a few aspects of these activities.
This research project delivering the first NWP experiments at hectometric scales over Belgium permits the IRM-KMI to join the state of the art in the international modelling community. By using crowdsourced (CS) data for the evaluation of the hectometric runs, IRM-KMI is also taking a major step forward on investigating the potential of novel meteorological data sources. Over the past decade more CS data became available, through the use of cheap sensor data available in real-time (Internet of Things technology) that are built in various applications (e.g. in cars) or that are collected by amateur weather stations, in citizen science projects (e.g. Vlinder project), etc. While they are far less reliable and accurate than the professional observations, they are abundantly available, can give spatial representations with very high resolutions and provide information on environments where we do not have traditional weather observations. CS-MASK will investigate the added value of non-traditional weather observations, not only to evaluate weather forecasts but also to develop high-resolution urban heat island (UHI) maps.