Through the AI of the storm – Emily Vosper at the Allianz climate risk award 2022

This blog post is written by CDT Student Emily Vosper

This December I travelled to Munich, Germany, to take part in the Allianz climate risk award. Allianz set up this initiative to acknowledge the work done by young scientists who aim to build resilience to and/or reduces the risk of extreme weather events that are exacerbated by climate change. The award is open to PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers who first submit an essay that outlines their work and the top four are invited to Munich where they present to the Allianz team.

In previous years, finalists have been working on very different climate hazards, but by chance this year the finalists all came from a tropical cyclone and/or flooding background. The finalists consisted of Mona Hemmati (Columbia University) who is a postdoctal researcher specialising in flood-related risks in tropical cyclones, Peter Pfeiderer (Humboldt University Berlin) whose work includes studying seasonal forecasts of tropical cyclones and Daniel Kahl (University of California) who studies flood exposure on a demographic level to understand community vulnerability for his PhD.

On Monday evening, the finalists were invited to meet the Allianz climate risk team at a Bavarian tapas bar. This evening was a great opportunity to get to know a bit about each other in a more relaxed setting, and a chance to sample some of the local cuisine!

On Tuesday, we met at the Allianz offices for the award day. With an excited buzz in the air, the event commenced with a keynote talk by Dr. Nicola Ranger, Oxford University, who spoke on the need to implement climate resilient finance strategies and during the Q and A session there was active discussion on how this could be achieved effectively. We also heard from Chris Townsend, a member of the board of management for Allianz SE, who introduced us to Allianz’ legacy and highlighted the exciting work going on in the climate risk space. We then heard engaging talks from Mona and Peter before a coffee break, followed by an articulate talk from Daniel. As the final speaker, I rounded off the presentation with my talk about how I’ve been using a generative adversarial network to enhance the resolution of tropical cyclone rainfall data. All presentations were followed by a group Q and A session where we discussed the exciting possibility of a collaboration between the four of us as our projects are very complimentary in nature.

With the award in its sixth year, there is now an alumni network of previous finalists rich with expertise in climate hazards and ample opportunity for future collaboration, so watch this space!

Left to Right: Holger Tewes-Kampelmann (CEO Allianz Reinsurance), Peter Pfeiderer (Humboldt University Berlin), Dr. Sibylle Steimen (MD Advisory & Services, Allianz Reinsurance), Emily Vosper (University of Bristol), Mona Hemmati (Columbia University), Daniel Kahl (UC Irvine), Chris Townsend (Member of the Board of Management, Allianz SE) and Dr. Nicola Ranger (Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford University).

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