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Pan-European Hail Model - Willis Research Network

Pan-European Hail Model - Willis Research Network

Dr. H. J. Punge, Dr. M. Kunz

Project Group:



 Willis Research Network


Hailstorms constitute one of the major atmospheric risks in most parts of Europe such as southwest

Germany, Switzerland, or Austria. However, due to their small spatial extent and low frequency at

a single point, little is known about the relative importance of the risk within Europe, nor about the

atmospheric conditions favorable to strong convective storms producing hail. Since insured hail

damage can reach hundreds of M€ in a single event, there is considerable interest in this topic from

the insurance industry. Knowledge on hail frequency and severity helps actors on the insurance

market with more solid estimates of hail-linked monetary risks and to better negotiate insurance and

re-insurance contracts.

Project activities:

A stochastic model for the frequency, extent and severity of hail events is currently under

development. Research at KIT is focusing on the hazard component of the model. METEOSAT Second

Generation (MSG) satellite data is used to identify major convective storms associated with hail since

2004. This method leads to a unique, spatially homogeneous event data set covering continental

Europe. Stochastic modeling of the frequency, length, width, and severity of hail events then allows

to generate a large event set for hail storms expected to occur in several thousand years. This

event set can in turn be combined with insurance portfolios in order to estimate return periods

of loss events for the insurers. The aim of the project is also to improve the understanding of the

relationship between the strength of convection and the formation of hail, and more generally

the prevailing atmospheric conditions at the formation of hail events. Several other data sources

including regional climate model data are investigated in this context.


The Willis Research Network Willis Group Holdings plc is a major global insurance and reinsurance

broker. Through the Willis Research Network (WRN), founded in 2006, it partners with a network

of currently 50 public research institutions worldwide. WRN operates through the organization of

common workshops with participation of their clients, the financing of staff hosted at the partner

institutions as Willis research fellows (WRF), and regular individual work meetings between WRN

staff and the partners. Dr. Heinz Jürgen Punge is the Willis research fellow for hail research at KIT

since 2012.

Science Systems & Applications, Inc., NASA Langley Research Center Science Systems and

Applications, Inc. (SSAI) is a leading provider of scientific, technical, and research support services.

They are developing algorithms that allow the accurate identification of convective storms from

satellite data.

Project duration:

The project started in June 2012 for an unlimited period with mutual annual cancellation options

after three years.