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UCL press invite: ‘El Nino: can predictions reduce hazard risk?’

Publication date: May 8, 2006 3:02:31 PM

The issue of how the insurance industry can effectively utilise El Nino forecasts will be examined at a seminar, 'El Nino: can predictions reduce hazard risk?' on Thursday 11 May 2006 in London.

Leading UCL (University College London) researchers in the field of climate modelling and prediction will unite with representatives from the insurance industry to look at how forecasts of hazard risks, particularly in relation to tropical storms, can and are being used.

Professor Mark Saunders, of the UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics and the Benfield Hazard Research Centre says: "El Nino and La Nina are the strongest natural climate signals on the planet. They affect hurricane, typhoon, flood and drought incidence throughout the tropics and sub-tropics. Our ability to forecast El Nino and La Nina months in advance is steadily improving, leading to potential reductions in risk for the insurance and other industries. After the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season interest in using forecasts to reduce hurricane risk has never been higher."

Topics to be tackled include:

* the performance of current El Nino forecasting

* 2006/7 El Nino forecast

* the implications for upcoming hurricane, tropical storm and typhoon seasons

Speakers include:

Professor Mark Saunders of UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics and the Benfield Hazard Research Centre at UCL.

Professor Saunders has developed the most accurate computer model yet for predicting the strength and damage of US hurricane activity. His team's forecasts for the record-breaking 2005 hurricane season outperformed those from all leading US groups.

Professor Lord Julian Hunt of the UCL Department Earth Sciences, Academic Director of the Lighthill Risk Network, and the Director of the Lighthill Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

Lord Hunt was Director-General and Chief Executive of the Meteorological Office from 1992-1997, and is a Baron in the House of Lords (with the title Lord Hunt of Chesterton).

Dr Michael Davey of the UCL Department of Mathematics and manager of the seasonal prediction group in the UK Meteorological Office.

Dr Davey works for both UCL and the UK Meteorological Office to link the theoretical and practical aspects of long range climate prediction.

Paul Nunn, Loss Modelling Manager, Lloyd's of London.

Mr Nunn's team are responsible for coordination of Lloyd's Realistic Disaster Scenario reporting returns and are developing a probabilistic framework to underpin a more comprehensive understanding of market exposure to catastrophic risk.

The seminar is organised by the Benfield Hazard Research Centre, the Lighthill Risk Network and the Lighthill Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

SEMINAR: 'El Nino: can predictions reduce hazard risk?'

DATE: Thursday 11 May 2006, 5-6.15 pm

WHERE: De Morgan House, 57-58 Russell Square, London, WC1B 4HS

Notes to editors

For further information or to register attendance, please contact:

Judith Moore, UCL Media Relations, Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 7678, Mobile: +44 (0)77 333 07596, Email: Judith.moore@ucl.ac.uk

About the Lighthill Risk Network

The Lighthill Risk Network (LRN) is a new international initiative linking business with other communities interested in risk. The specific aim is to facilitate and enhance knowledge transfer into business, initially insurance, from academic, government, professional and commercial experts at the forefront of risk-related research.  It is not-for-profit and dedicated to establishing and fostering links that create value between all its members. Sitting at the centre of this community, the LRN (administered within UCL) is in a unique position to connect the right people, on the right problems, rapidly.

From October 2006, LRN will become fully operational. Prior to its launch, the LRN will be building up its backbone of scientific Risk Fellows, partner organisations (both Scientific and Third Party) and business subscribers. For more information, click on: http://www.lighthillrisknetwork.org/