December 21, 2015

From Flood Research to Resilience Mapping

Posted by elandau

Today’s post is part of a series written by student bloggers from the AGU Fall Meeting.

By: Jiawei Tao, Peking University

Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population resides in its coastal counties. A detailed analysis on different types of hazards (floods, heavy storms, storm surge, etc.) and some long-term effects (such as sea level rise) are of vital importance in estimating vulnerability and potential impacts in the near-term as well as in the future. Studying various hazards that might threaten the US coastline can provide coastal decision-makers with key information on evaluating possible damage on population, property value, housing, schools, etc. Sharing this hazards information can also help the public better understand climate science and natural hazards, which prevents further threats to personal safety.

USGS map

Credit: USGS

At the session “Flood Mapping for Adaptation and Resilience: Sea Level Rise, Storms, and Coastal Response” at the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting, scientists from all over the world presented their findings on flood mapping. They covered issues such as adaptation, resilience, and possible prediction and coastal responses to sea level rise, storms, and various types of hazards.

In the first presentation, given by John Rozum and Doug Marcy from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), a sea live rise decision support tool was introduced. NOAA’s reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as they work to keep citizens informed of the changing environment around them. This decision support tool was attributed to a collaboration of tool developers, science translators, and coastal managers. A sea level rise comparison matrix was demonstrated and it was developed to create a collaborative communication framework to help California coastal decision-makers navigate the range of available sea level rise planning tools, and to inform tool developers of future planning needs.

Scoot Kulp and Ben Strauss from Climate Central discussed the Surging Seas Risk Finder, which was developed so that local decision makers in coastal cities could have access to accurate and thorough assessments of flood risk. This tool is an interactive data toolkit which presents their sea level rise and storm surge analysis for every coastal town, city, county, and state within the U.S. Policy makers can receive a detailed flood risk assessment by using this tool.

In addition to studies on various types of immediate hazards and long-term drivers of change, research has been done on resilience on coastal cities. An example of the recovery of Jamaica Bay in New York City after the severe damage caused by the Hurricane Sandy was shown. Adam Parris and his collaborators presented a flood mapping tool developed by several government agencies, showcasing a critical step towards long term resilience planning.

The many different kinds of research on flood mapping, as well as various tools to help coastal managers in decision making, show the efforts that have been made to provide policy makers with better information to reduce and evaluate potential damage caused by floods and to help communities.