Irstea (Institut national de recherche en sciences et technologies pour l’environnement et l’agriculture – National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture; formerly Cemagref) is a national, public institute in France, focusing on scientific and technological research in the areas of environment, land management, water risks and natural disasters. Irstea boasts a dual culture of researchers and engineers, who tackle environmental matters from three angles: research, innovation and expertise. It was awarded the 5-year label ‘Institut Carnot’ in 2006, renewed in 2011, by the French Government, which recognizes Irstea’s ability and commitment to work with industry, notably SMEs (on average, Irstea participates to the creation of two companies per year). This label is awarded to only 34 institutes, organized as a network, committed to improving their business practices and economic impact through open innovation. Irstea has 1600 employees, working in 9 centers in France, within 25 research units.
Three research units (representing five laboratories ) are involved in the NAIAD project:
1) The “Snow Avalanches engineering and torrent control” research unit (ETNA – Irstea, Grenoble, France) develops researches applied to mountain natural hazards (rating A+ in the last national research evaluation). Research focuses on triggering, propagation and effects of phenomena but also on decision support for risk management based both on expert assessment and imperfect information representation and treatment.
2) The “Mountain Ecosystems’ research units of the regional center of Grenoble (EMGR, Irstea, Grenoble). Research focuses on the analysis of mountain ecosystem dynamics on different scales, and their vulnerability in a context of global change (climate and uses), to improve knowledge of ecological processes and to produce methods and operational tools for the management of mountain ecosystems services and ecological engineering. Analyzing the protection role of forest against natural phenomena in mountains such as snow avalanches, mountain torrents and rockfalls is a core objective of this team.
3) The Risk, Ecosystems, Vulnerability, Environment and Resilience research unit (RECOVER – Irstea , Aix-en-Provence, France) conducts research and supports public policies and works in partnership with socio-economic entities in the area of risk related to management practices for land and water-based ecosystems. It also analyses risk related to certain structures, facilities and technology when interacting with these ecosystems (dams, dykes, irrigation systems etc…). It carries out its activities in the fields of:
• performance and safety of hydraulic structures for which safety must be guaranteed over the long term. It develops mainly methods and models for the diagnosis and analysis of risks related to dams and embankments. Recent developments deal with expert assessments formalization, information imperfection and rule-based. Those methods can be applied to several technical systems ;
• fire risk assessment and assessment of the vulnerability of ecosystems to fire and to climate changes. It develops methods and models for the diagnosis and analysis of fire impacts on infrastructures and ecosystems;
• hydrology in order to assess, forecast, monitor floods and help public bodies to manage risk. The recent Rhytmme project has settled in Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur several Xband radars and an hydrometeorological platform to improve natural risk management in relation with rainfalls (floods, torrential floods, landslides, forest fires, snow avalanches). Irstea realizes back analysis of past dommagables floods over Mediterranean region. These analysis are made in the context of the HyMeX and in the context of development of a flash flood warning system. Irstea owns a twenty events database that occurred in the south of France during the last 5 years, that represent 750 georeferenced damages and 50 victims.