Extreme Rainfall Detection System

contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2020), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

The Extreme Rainfall Detection System (ERDS), developed and implemented by ITHACA, is a service for monitoring and forecasting exceptional rainfall events, with a nearly global geographic coverage.

This system is conceived to be a strategic tool, providing complete, immediate and intuitive information, to be used during the preparedness and response phases of the emergency cycle. The information is accessible through a WebGIS application, developed in a complete Open Source environment, that processes and disseminates warnings in an understandable way also for non-specialized users.

Available capabilities include the analysis of both the near real-time and the forecast rainfall amount for different lead times, with the aim to deliver extreme rainfall alerts. The extreme rainfall detection methodology is based on the concept of threshold. A threshold represents the amount of precipitation needed to trigger a flood event induced by extreme rainfall. Specifically, if for a selected aggregation interval the accumulated precipitation exceeds the threshold, an alert is provided. Before publishing, the alerts produced on areas entirely occupied by sea or ocean are discarded: ERDS, in fact, is a tool developed in order to provide alerts on populated areas.

NASA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) data, in particular the IMERG (Integrated Multi-Satellite Retrieval for GPM) Early run products, is used as a near real-time source of rainfall measurements. GPM IMERG data is characterized by a temporal resolution of 30 minutes, a 0,1° x 0,1° spatial resolution and a 60° N - 60° S spatial coverage , while the remaining upper and lower latitudes extending to 90° are considered as characterized by "partial coverage". The most recent GPM IMERG data is downloaded every hour in order to provide information about the accumulated rainfall (and related heavy rainfall alerts) over the past 12, 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours.

ERDS is also able to provide longer lead-time alerts (up to 6 days) for heavy rain and floods, using forecast rainfall data coming from NOAA-GFS (Global Forecast System) deterministic weather prediction models, with a 0,25° x 0,25° spatial resolution and worldwide coverage, updated on a 12-hour basis.

The system has been used by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Emergency Preparedness Unit. During 2017/2018, information regarding accumulated rainfall and extreme rainfall alerts were integrated in TRIBUTE (TRIgger BUffers for inundaTion Events) portal, a DG ECHO funded project.

ERDS is now included in the Weather and Climate Large-scale Pilot of the LEXIS (Large-scale EXecution for Industry and Society) H2020 project (grant agreement n°825532). In the framework of LEXIS project, CIMA Research Foundation is running a 7.5 km resolution WRF (Weather Research and Forecasting) model with European coverage and radar data assimilation over Italy thanks to an advanced engineering platform based on HPC and cloud solutions. The data is processed by ERDS to provide more detailed forecasts over Europe up to 48 hours, both in terms of accumulated rainfall and heavy rainfall events.

Updates on the most severe hydrological disasters are published on our Twitter account (@ithaca_erds).




  • Paola Mazzoglio, Francesco Laio, Simone Balbo, Piero Boccardo. ERDS: an Extreme Rainfall Detection System Based on Both near Real-Time and Forecast Rainfall Measurements. Annual of the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy (Sofia), 2019, vol 52, Issue S1, pp 1423-1433, ISSN 2534- 9759. https://www.uacg.bg
  • Paola Mazzoglio, Francesco Laio, Simone Balbo, Piero Boccardo, Franca Disabato. Improving an Extreme Rainfall Detection System with GPM IMERG data. Remote Sensing. 2019, 11, 677. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11060677

Abstract and Conference proceedings

  • Paola Mazzoglio, Antonio Parodi, Andrea Parodi, Lorenza Bovio, Jan Martinovic. Heavy rainfall identification within the framework of the LEXIS Project: the Italian case study. 101st American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, 2021. Abstract | Poster
  • Antonio Parodi, Emanuele Danovaro, James Hawkes, Tiago Quintino, Martina Lagasio, Fabio Delogu, Mirko D’Andrea, Andrea Parodi, Biagio Massimo Sardo, Andrea Ajmar, Paola Mazzoglio, Fabien Brocheton, Laurent Ganne, Ruben J. García-Hernández, Stephan Hachinger, Mohamad Hayek, Olivier Terzo, Jan Krenek, Jan Martinovic. LEXIS Weather and Climate Large-Scale Pilot. In: Barolli L., Poniszewska-Maranda A., Enokido T. (eds). Complex, Intelligent and Software Intensive Systems. CISIS 2020. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, 2021, vol 1194. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-50454-0_25
  • Paola Mazzoglio, Simone Balbo, Francesco Laio, Piero Boccardo, Paolo Pasquali. ERDS: un sistema open source per il monitoraggio di eventi di pioggia intensa. FOSS4G Italia 2020. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3647629
  • Eighth Bulgarian-Austrian Seminar "Hydrological hazards and related problems" - 30/31 May 2019 - Sofia.
    "ERDS: an Extreme Rainfall Detection System based on both near real-time and forecast rainfall measurements".
    Authors: Paola Mazzoglio, Francesco Laio, Simone Balbo, Piero Boccardo.
    Abstract (page 12) | Presentation
  • 3rd International Electronic Conference on Remote Sensing (ECRS-3)
    "Assessment of an Extreme Rainfall Detection System for flood prediction over Queensland (Australia)".
    Authors: Paola Mazzoglio, Francesco Laio, Constantin Sandu, Piero Boccardo.
    Presentation | Conference Proceeding
  • "Flood forecasting meets machine learning Workshop" - 16/17 January 2019 - Google campus in Tel Aviv.
    "Extreme rainfall detection system based on both near real-time and forecast rainfall measurements".
    Author: Paola Mazzoglio.
  • AIT 2018 - IX Conference of the Italian Society of Remote Sensing - 4/6 July 2018 - Firenze (Italy).
    "ERDS: a satellite-based approach in the extreme rainfall detection field".
    Authors: Paola Mazzoglio, Piero Boccardo, Francesco Laio, Simone Balbo, Franca Disabato. Presented as Oral.
    Abstract (page 137)
  • EGU General Assembly 2018 - 8/13 April 2018 - Vienna (Austria).
    "GPM precipitation data as input for a real time extreme rainfall detection system".
    Authors: Paola Mazzoglio, Francesco Laio, Franca Disabato, Irene Angeluccetti. Presented as Oral.
    Abstract | Presentation

NASA webinar and workshop