Scholarship code CU2.287

Developing innovative approaches for cascading effects to improve flood risk management actions with a specific interest on the functional vulnerability of critical infrastructures.

  • Reference person
    Giuseppe Tito
  • Host University/Institute
    University of Messina
  • Internship
  • Research Keywords
    Resilience and risk impact
    Critical infrastructures
    Sustainable engineering
  • Reference ERCs
  • Reference SDGs
    GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
    GOAL 13: Climate Action


Risk analysis is central to Civil Protection activities and is the core element of risk management. Specific “Risk Management Plans” are needed to ready Civil Protection structures for tackling and managing an emergency. These identify the objectives that must be followed and achieved for the organisation of a desirable response by the Civil Protection when the event occurs.The development of risk reduction strategies includes all aspects of risk management, from prevention to recovery. Civil Protection has a central role in ensuring a resilient approach for disaster risk reduction The project aims at studying innovative approaches for the development of integrated flood risk scenarios taking into consideration critical specific issues of areas at risk and the consequences of high frequency/low damage events that affect them. High frequency floods still involve and require mitigation actions on the part of civil protection and citizens before floodwaters inundate the land and directly affect assets that can benefit from enhanced protocol development based on realistic scenarios.In particular, the main idea is to develop a supporting decision tool for the comparative analysis of disaster reduction strategies in flood risk management, with a specific interest in studying the functional vulnerability of critical infrastructures in order to preserve their efficiency during and after hazardous events. This project will contribute to risk prevention addressing two challenging goals: firstly deriving consistent risk scenarios at the micro-scale, for frequent events, focusing on strategic infrastructures vulnerability; secondly defining effective strategies for managing emergencies, focusing on the individuation of areas at risk of isolation, best routes to reach populations, recovery areas, good practices to avoid the presence of citizens and cars in flooded areas. The project also aims to support Civil Protection actions of risk reduction in at-risk territories during and after emergencies, keeping at-risk citizens safe, through both flood water avoidance and minimising disruption. Flood events cause both direct and indirect impacts, referring to the losses or disruption caused by the direct contact with flood water or due to the secondary effects.For example. Transport infrastructures, can suffer structural (direct) damages after a flood event and, consequently, lead to an isolation of flooded and also not flooded areas (indirect effect). The efficiency of urban infrastructure is maintained if their disruption does not cause injuries and their functional role is substituted by other infrastructures following alternative routes. Identifying strategic buildings for citizen people recovery, defining the transferability transitability and partial transitability damage states and providing the alternative routes in both eventualities - including considerations on people behaviour, human resources and costs of alternative actions – is an important contribution to mitigate events’ consequences by maintaining efficient infrastructures during and after disasters. Event management protocols benefiting from such considerations.The main activity of the PhD student will be at the Water Engineering Research Group at the University of Messina, which will be integrated with two training periods, one abroad (6 months) at University of Bristol (one of the main European centres on the topic of the thesis) for an improvement of knowledge to flood resilience for the transport infrastructure and one at the Department of Civil Protection of the Sicily Region to improve the aspects related to disaster reduction strategies during and after hazardous events.

Suggested skills:

The ideal candidate shuold have a background in civil and environmental engineering studies, in particular in the field of urban and riverine flooding, flood vulnerability and damage evaluation.Familiarity with programming languages such as Matlab, R, Fortran, will be positively considered, as experiences in statistics, data analysis and socio-economic modelling will be an added value. Fluency in English, both written and spoken is recommended. Finally, the candidate shuold be strongly motivated to work in a collaborative environment, with an interdisciplinary approach. A wllingness for international mobility is required

Research team and environment

TThe research activity wilt take place at the Department of Engineering, University of Messina. Within the Research Group of Water Engineering and Hydrology coordinated by Prof. Giuseppe T. Aronica. The Group includes an Associate Professor and other members (PhD students, Post-Docs, Research Assistants) and cover research topics related to flood risk management and flood defense design, flood propagation modelling, hydrological and hydraulic modelling of flash floods and debris flows, flood vulnerability and damage evaluation, pluvial flooding, sustainable urban drainage systems. Flood early warning, stochastic hydrology applied to the analysis of extreme hydrometeorological events. The research activities are supported by several national and International grants in the field of flood risk assessment and mitigation, damage evaluation, development of disaster risk reduction strategies. The Research Group collaborates with several other research groups in Italy (University of Palermo,IUSS Pavia, Polytechnic Milan, University of Naples, and others) and abroad (University of Exeter, University of Thessaloniki, University of Bristol, Middlesex University, University of Sarajevo and others).