National Protection and Rescue Directorate today presented the EU CIRCLE project, which involves the participation of the National Protection and Rescue Directorate, University of Applied Sciences Velika Gorica and the Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service. The project aims to strengthen the resilience of interconnected and interdependent critical infrastructures to climate change.

What is critical infrastructure? National critical infrastructures are systems, networks and facilities of national importance, whose disruption or termination of delivering goods or services may have serious impact on national security, human health and lives, property and the environment, safety and economic stability, as well as the continuous functioning of the government.

Increasingly frequent flooding, earthquakes, fires, strong winds and other natural disasters caused by climate change are becoming an ever-increasing global threat, but also an ever greater challenge for our society. Hundreds of thousands of casualties, millions of euros in damage and millions of people forced to abandon their homes every year. Therefore, each country must be prepared for a timely reaction and the elimination of possible consequences.

Whether climate change will cause a failure in the functionality of critical infrastructure in the Republic of Croatia and Europe – the answers to this question could be provided by the results of the EU CIRCLE project, whose participants are academic institutions, governmental bodies, meteorological services and companies from the fields of climatology and critical infrastructure protection from nine states of the European Union.

Three partner institutions from the Republic of Croatia participate in the project, which possess knowledge of critical infrastructure protection and disaster risk assessment, as well as experience in crisis management: National Protection and Rescue Directorate, Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service and the University of Applied Sciences Velika Gorica.

National Protection and Rescue Directorate (NPRD) is directly involved in the creation and development of the final technological solution, as well as the software for the simulation of the interconnectedness of infrastructures, climate hazards, and the effects and spreading of risk/impacts.

National Protection and Rescue Directorate will participate in the project in the building of the network of critical infrastructure stakeholders, exchange of experiences in the operational management of critical infrastructures from the climate change aspect, followed by the involvement in criticality indicators and case studies, etc. In addition, NPRD will be a part of the team which will build the network for connecting critical infrastructures.

The project, in the duration of 36 months and with the total budget of 7.3 million euros, funded by the EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, aims to strengthen the resilience of interconnected and interdependent critical infrastructures to climate change.

Leading the consortium of 20 partner organizations is the National Centre for Scientific Research Demokritos (Greece).

Meteorological and Hydrological Service (DHMZ) has a leading role in the preparation and analysis of climate information and forecast models for extreme weather events, in which task it will be supported by the Norwegian and Greek meteorological service. For this purpose DHMZ has received approximately 166.000 euros from the project budget.

-As an operational, but also a scientific and research institution, DHMZ is a national centre for excellence and knowledge in the field of meteorology and climatology. We are glad that our expertise has been widely recognized and that we were entrusted with an important task within the EU CIRCLE project, which is the examination of available weather and climate data, the possibilities of climate and forecasting models, as well as their capacities and limitations at various spatial and temporal scales for assessing potential threats to critical infrastructure. This activity is a part of our strategic goal to achieve high quality of information, products and services in accordance with the needs of the economy and social development. Without young professional meteorologists that would be inconceivable, and this project enabled us to hire one young meteorologist for the duration of the project – said the DHMZ project coordinator Branka Ivančan-Picek.

University of Applied Sciences Velika Gorica (VVG) has the best experts in the field of critical infrastructure protection, so it has been given the leading task within the EU CIRCLE project with regard to the critical infrastructure resilience indicators. The university is responsible for managing approximately 170.000 euros.

-It is well-known that climate change affects the lifespan and efficiency of critical infrastructure and has devastating effects with regard to human and economic losses. Modern critical infrastructures are interconnected and therefore extreme events may lead to cascade failures. In our country, such disasters occur on a smaller scale, but unfortunately we also have not been spared from natural disasters. I will give you a real-life example which occurred in Gorski kotar and Lika in 2014, when the snow and ice caused enormous damage to the power system and the woodlands, estimated to more than 300 million euros. Likewise, floods have become a major problem in our country that is repeated every year. In addition to personal human suffering and casualties that accompany natural disasters, there are also huge material losses. If we can contribute to the reduction of the climate change effects and impacts, then it is a great honor for us to participate in the EU CIRCLE project. We will use our knowledge in the implementation of this scientific and research project – pointed out Alen Stranjik from the University of Applied Sciences Velika Gorica.

Contacts:

National Protection and Rescue Directorate, Kristina Mulić, kristina.mulic-AT-duzs.hr

Meteorological and Hydrological Service, Branka Ivančan-Picek, picek-AT-cirus.dhz.hr

University of Applied Sciences Velika Gorica, Renata Peternel, renata.peternel-AT-vvg.hr