Related - Floodplain Manager November 2021

Flooding Throughout Eastern Australia 

Low pressure systems bombarded Australia’s east coast with sustained heavy rainfall throughout most of November, producing widespread flooding.

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Flood warnings have been in place from central Queensland, throughout much of NSW and as far south as northern and eastern Victoria. In Queensland, the lower Macintyre River had major flooding at Boggabilla and Goondiwindi, while the town of Inglewood has recorded its highest peak flood level of Macintyre Brook since 1976 at 11.15 m. Approximately 800 residents were evacuated from low-lying areas of the town, with floodwaters cutting roads and likely inundating some homes. Meanwhile, flash flooding around Mackay flooded sugar cane fields and jeopardised the harvest season.

Major flooding of the Namoi River in northwest New South Wales peaked at 8.31 m at Gunnedah on Sunday 28 November, inundating large areas of the town, flooding at least 20 homes and isolating the downstream town of Wee Waa. Further downstream at Narrabri, the Namoi is still in major flood with flood levels rising (as at 1 December). In the central west, major flooding of the Lachlan River near Forbes peaked at 10.53 m and caused widespread destruction to wheat crops only days away from harvest, as well as destroying valuable grazing grass. There are similar concerns across much of NSW and Victoria where floods have delayed harvest and may significantly reduce the value of wheat crops if they become too wet. The Bureau of Meteorology has also put out a major flood warning (1 December) for the town of Warren, with major flooding already occurring upstream at Warren Weir. Throughout the eastern states the NSW SES has been inundated with over 5,000 requests for assistance from those trapped in floodwaters, isolated by flooding or impacted by flood damage and has reiterated its advice that people should not attempt to drive through floodwaters after having to perform an “unacceptable” number of rescues of people who had attempted to do so.

(Read more here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) 

BoM Declares a La Niña in the Pacific 

The Bureau of Meteorology has raised its El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Outlook to La Niña, with more heavy rainfall and flooding likely on the way.

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The La Niña event has contributed to priming the northern and eastern Australian climate for intense rainfall and flooding over summer. During La Niña, sea surface temperatures in the western Pacific near Australia’s east coast are warmer than average while temperatures in the central Pacific are lower, producing an atmospheric pressure gradient that drives easterly trade winds in the Pacific and pools warm surface waters against Australia’s east coast. These warm waters tend to increase atmospheric moisture and produce wet weather across northern, eastern and southern parts of the country. Southern and eastern Australia have already been primed for flooding by a negative Indian Ocean Dipole that persisted throughout winter and spring this year, leading to persistent rainfall throughout spring and saturating the ground. A positive phase of the Southern Annular Mode (a southward shift in storms) is also conducive to rainfall in south-eastern Australia. Probable intense rainfall falling on saturated soils is likely to lead to further flooding over summer. Bureau of Meteorology climate models indicate that the La Niña is likely to persist until late summer or early autumn.

(Read more here, here and here).

Climate Risk Atlases Released 

The Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC) has released a series of Atlases detailing the climate risks faced by each of the G20 countries.

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Released in the lead up to the 2021 G20 meeting held in Rome, each factsheet summarises scientific research and climate modelling into the impacts of climate change on individual countries’ economies and environments. The atlases are intended as a tool for informing decision-making processes and policy creation. The Climate Risk Atlas for Australia suggests that the frequency and magnitude of riverine floods may change due to climate change, with the proportion of the Australian population exposed to these events increasing with rising global temperatures. The Atlas also notes that a large proportion of the Australian population live in coastal cities, with many settlements in low-lying areas that are at risk of erosion, storm surge and inundation as sea level rises and intense storms become more frequent. Under a medium emission scenario, 100,000 people will be exposed to coastal flooding by 2050, and wetlands, mangroves and estuaries will become increasingly exposed as well. 

(Read more here, here and here).

Resilient Australia Awards Finalists Announced 

Three of the finalist projects for this year’s Resilient Australia Awards are focused on improving community resilience to flooding.

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‘After the Flood: A Strategy for Long-Term Recovery’ is a project by the National Resilience and Recovery Agency that has developed a ground-up approach to delivering recovery solutions and future preparedness for floods. The project promotes strong collaboration between government, the community, industry and businesses and emphasises the importance of strategies being locally led and understood. Another finalist, FloodMapp, is a start-up technology company from Brisbane that provides emergency managers with real-time flood modelling. The digital maps are scalable, meaning they can give a national overview or can be zoomed in down to the scale of individual addresseswhich allows disaster managers to design targeted and timely flood responses. The Resilient Rochester Project is a joint project of VICSES, the North Central Catchment Management Authority and Campaspe Shire Council. The project developed tools that were distributed to local households and businesses as part of a community education program. These tools provided personalised information so that locals can understand their individual flood risk and what actions need to be taken to manage that flood risk. The winners of the Resilient Australia Awards will be announced on 8 December 2021

(Read more here and here).

Deadline Extended for FMA Paper Abstracts 

The deadline for paper abstracts for the 2022 Floodplain Management Australia (FMA) National Conference has been extended to Friday 10 December. 

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The FMA conference will be held in Toowoomba, Queensland from 18 to 20 May 2022 and will be a hybrid event with both in-person and online components. This year’s theme will be “Integrated Floodplain Management: creating safer, stronger communities”.

(Read more here).

Preparing Australian Communities Grants Program 

Applications for the Commonwealth Government’s Preparing Australian Communities grants program will open on 10 December 2021 and close on 6 January 2022.

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This grants program will provide funding for locally led projects designed to improve community resilience against natural hazards, such as floods, tropical cyclones and bushfires. The program is intended to reduce the impacts that future natural hazards may have on local communities and to reduce the cost and time required to recover from future disasters. It is designed to prioritise local government areas with the highest risk of natural hazards.

(Read more here).

Traralgon’s Flood Warning System Failed Sleeping Residents 

Despite a detailed early warning planresidents received no alert before Traralgon Creek inundated 100 homes in the town of Traralgon in the early morning of June 10.

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Following floods in 2011 and 2012, the local council developed a detailed plan for alerting town residents in the flood zone of any potential flooding, including a system for messaging phones within the area. However, when an east coast low pressure system produced heavy rainfall in the catchment upstream of Traralgon in June this year and river gauges indicated flooding downstream was imminent, the alert system was not activated and citizens awoke to flooded streets and homes. The VicEmergency app issued an evacuation order at 10:30 am, an hour and a half after flood levels had peaked at 5.8 m AHD. The community and local MPs want to know why the early warning system did not issue an alert to residents and the matter will form part of an internal review being conducted by Emergency Management Victoria.

(Read more here).

Tuvalu Minister Gives Statement to COP26 Standing in Ocean 

Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe recorded his address to the COP26 climate summit while standing in knee-deep in the Pacific to highlight the climate impacts his country faces. 

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Images of the film shoot went viral on social media and drew international attention to the sea level rise impacting Tuvalu. During the COP26 conference hosted by Glasgow, 200 countries agreed to provide assistance to nations most vulnerable to climate change. This includes many Pacific Island nations, whose low-lying islands have high exposure to sea level rise.

(Read more here and here).

Implications of COP26 for Flood Prone Communities 

The UN Climate Change Conference COP26 concentrated on climate change mitigation, but mechanisms for financing climate adaptation still need to be strengthened.

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The conference produced pledges for reducing deforestation and for reducing coal and methane use. However, the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance argues that current commitments to climate mitigation are unlikely to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees CelsiusConsequently, flood prone communities will be exposed to more intense storm events and higher sea level rise than they are currently. While the conference produced some commitment to financing adaptation to the climate impacts we are already seeing, these are possibly not extensive enough to meet future or even current climate adaptation needs. Flood prone communities already experiencing sea level rise and the intensification of rainfall are likely to be under-resourced in adapting to these impacts.

(Read more here).

WMO Declares Extreme Weather Events the New Norm 

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has declared that extreme weather events produced by human-induced climate change are now the new norm.

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In the lead up to the COP26 conference, the WMO released a provisional report into the state of the global climate in 2021. The report points to severe flooding in China and Europe, as well as heatwaves in Canada and the U.S. and drought in sub-tropical South America as examples of extreme events that have occurred in just 2021. The WMO also notes an acceleration in sea level rise and that the 20-year average shows global warming has now reached 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

(Read more here and here).

Method for Evaluating Future Flood Risk at a Regional Scale 

A team of Austrian researchers have developed the regional floodplain evaluation matrix (RegioFEM) as a tool for sustainable flood risk management.

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The tool allows researchers to investigate the impact of changes in hydrological, hydraulic, spatial and monetary factors to future flood risk at a regional scale. While future-oriented flood risk management is often plagued with uncertainty regarding future development, the RegioFEM approach allows researchers to expand the assessment and employ additional approaches to address the uncertainty.

(Read more here).

Space-Based Technologies Bolstering Floodplain Management in Central America 

Satellite-based technologies meant northern Central America was better prepared for flood impacts when hurricanes Eta and Iota hit in 2020.

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Regional institutions were able to rely on tools developed by SERVIR, which is a program run by USAID and NASAThe HYDRAFloods tool uses a combination of optical and radar imagery to map flood extents, regardless of cloud cover, and can be used to assess flood impacts. The GEOGLoWS ECMWF Streamflow Hydroviewer program monitors streamflow and can provide flood forecasts. When Central America was threatened by the hurricanes in 2020, these tools assisted regional institutions in protecting local residents and businesses and informed the timing of safe releases of water from the El Cajon hydroelectric damprotecting hundreds of thousands of people downstream.

(Read more here).

Better Models Needed for Compounding Flood Events Along Coastlines 

Climate change is increasing the frequency of compound events in which riverine, overland anstorm surge flooding combine.

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As a result, coastal communities are becoming increasingly exposed to a complex interplay between different flood mechanisms that typically operate at different spatial scales. The development of more complex flood models is required in order to better predict the potential impacts of such compound events and to better prepare communities for the flood risk they faceIntegrating riverine and oceanic processes into a single model has proven difficult due to the different scales at which these processes operate, but is essential for understanding the interplay between flood mechanisms

(Read more here).

Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin Requires Shift to Eco-Hydrological Paradigm 

Flood management in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin should shift to recognise high river flows as an intrinsic part of river systems.

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Flood management within the basin has traditionally focused on structural interventions intended to mitigate flooding through “flood control” practices. However, these structures, such as embankments, have often served to exacerbate flooding and have caused unforeseen issues, such as channel avulsion. A recent Water Science policy brief recommends that an eco-hydrological approach is adopted for flood management in the basin, moving from a paradigm of “flood resistance” to “flood tolerance”. The brief recommends floodplain zoning and integrating natural flooding processes with human habitation so that communities can benefit from the ecosystem services provided by flooding.

(Read more here and here).

Intermediate Complexity Flood Models Allow Consideration of a Wider Range of Solutions 

Using a case study from New York City, the benefits of using an intermediate-complexity model framework for assessing a wider range of mitigation strategies has been assessed.

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While high-complexity models are sophisticated, they are computationally expensive, and their complexity often limits the number of strategies and the representation of uncertainties. This study has found that running a larger number of risk mitigation strategies in an intermediate complexity model framework can help expand the solution set and helps explain the synergies and trade-offs. They also allow for the consideration of greater levels of uncertainty and analyse a richer set of strategies and objectives compared to higher-complexity models. 

(Read more here).

Floods Trigger Scorpion Infestation in Egypt 

Heavy rain and hail in southern Egypt from 12 November 2021 have brought a large number of scorpions into the residential parts of the city of Aswan and surrounding areas.

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The sudden floods have flushed the scorpions’ underground burrows in the usually very dry region, prompting the arachnids to search for dry lands in the mountainside villages. While the scorpions are common in the region, the high number of stings in a single night is very rare. Local officials said that three people have died from scorpion stings, and over 500 people have been hospitalised and required anti-venom injections. The heavy rain and hail also damaged buildings and roads in the area. 

(Read more here and here).

Can Rebranding ‘Managed Retreat’ make it more Palatable? 

It is hoped that an alternative term such as ‘resilient relocation’ helps focus on proactive measures that can be taken, while ‘managed retreat’ implies defeat for development on beaches threatened by sea-level rise.

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The phrase ‘managed retreat’ is now avoided by coastal planners and state agencies in California, as it is seen as being synonymous with failed planning and is quickly rejected by local municipalities and landowners. While the term itself can be avoided, the issue of adapting to rising sea levels cannot be ignored. The California Coastal Commission refers to the need for ‘phased adaptation’ which can include the relocation of structures. It is hoped that a shift from polarising language can help coastal communities find sustainable solutions to managing the coast, which will inevitably involve relocation of structures.   

(Read more here).

Quantitatively Assessing the Flood Risk Level in a Riparian Zone 

By undertaking a quantitative risk assessment (QRA) for the riparian zone, this study divided the degree of risk from flooding over a river system and found that flood risk can be reduced by 40% through targeted adaptive flood management strategies.

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It presents a methodology to focus on the high-risk flooding sections with the greatest potential for reducing flood risk, rather the entire river system. The QRA was compared to statistically derived societal risk limits to determine acceptable risk levels and found that measures could reduce flood risk by over 40% and reduce the expected death toll from 69% to 25% and satisfy societal risk acceptance conditions.

(Read more here).

Study into Integrated Flood Management Approach 

A recent study demonstrates the potential for the application of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) approach to assist in integrated flood management over transboundary river basins.

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The HACCP approach is currently included in international standards such as those on food safety management and has been established for the systemic detection of potential hazards and reduction of risks. This paper proposes that this approach can be used in transboundary integrated flood management to identify risks at the subbasin level. This approach is tested in Slovenia to investigate the impact of planned upstream measures on downstream areas, and determines critical limits for CCPs in this context. The paper argues that it can provide a benefit to international water practitioners to support decisions regarding strategic flood management.

(Read more here).

International Floods

There were 25 international floods reported across 14 countries in November 2021. At least 150 people died and more than 90,000 were displaced.  

Internationally significant floods included: 

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Canada 

The Canadian province of British Colombia has been hit by heavy rainfall and flooding in November caused by an atmospheric river, which is a corridor of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere that transports massive volumes of water vapour from the tropics. This phenomena is expected to become more frequent, larger and more intense as the atmosphere warms due to climate change. More rain fell in a two-day period than the province usually sees in all of November, causing widespread flooding and mudslides that have resulted in four fatalities and displaced 18,000 people. The flooding is an example of a compound climate disaster. Five months ago, the region experienced an extreme heatwave and destructive wildfiresthe intensity of which was estimated to have been made 150 times more likely due to climate changeThe impacts of these wildfires exacerbated flooding and mudslides in the November floods by decreasing available vegetation to intercept overland flows and stabilise slopes and by making the soil hydrophobic so that water was not absorbed but flowed downhill. The floods destroyed bridges and railroads and effectively cut off the port city of Vancouver from the rest of the country, exacerbating existing delays in global supply chains. 

(Read more here, here and here).

India

The states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in India both experienced significant flooding in November as the result of heavy rainfall. State officials reported 14 fatalities and over 11,000 people displaced in Tamil Nadu and the flooding has destroyed homes, infrastructure and farmland and killed hundreds of livestock. Flooding in Andhra Pradesh has killed at least 24 people and displaced almost 32,000 people. Floodwaters have resulted in building collapses, damaged a dam in the Kadapa District and washed away a bus carrying a dozen people. 

(Read more here, here, and here).

Sri Lanka 

A fortnight of heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka with 20 fatalities reported in Kurunegala, Badulla, Kegalle, Puttalam and various other towns. Over 5,000 people have been displaced by the flooding and severe weather and approximately 1,000 homes have been damaged. 

(Read more here).

Diary

2021 Resilient Australia Awards
Where: Online via Zoom
When: 8 December 2021
For more information visit here

2022 ASFPM Conference
Where: Caribe Royale Orlando, Florida
When: 25 to 19 May 2022
For more information visit here

FMA National Conference, Toowoomba
Where: Toowoomba
When: 18 to 20 May 2022
For more information visit here

2022 NSW Coastal Conference
Where: Kingscliff
When: 31 May to 2 June 2022
For more information visit here

2022 Flood and Coast Conference
Where: Telford, UK and Online
When: 7 to 9 June 2022
For more information visit here

AFAC22 conference for emergency management
Where: Adelaide Convention Centre
When: 23 – 26 August 2022
For more information visit here

Resources

Updated Public Information and Warnings Handbook 

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience has updated its Public Information and Warnings Handbook to include recent research and the adoption of the Australian Warning System. The handbook is designed for use by people responsible for communicating with the public during disasters. It discusses the essentials of communicating public information and warnings to the public and sets out nationally agreed principles for delivering warnings. 

(Read here).

UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2021 

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released its adaptation gap report for 2020 titled ‘The Gathering Storm’. This report examines how countries are adapting to the impacts of climate change as they intensify, from embedding climate change adaptation in policy and planning to lost opportunities for COVID-19 recovery stimulus packages to address climate adaptation. The report highlights a pressing need for increased climate adaptation finance. 

(Read here).

En-ROADS Seal Level Rise Maps 

Climate Interactive has added sea level rise map functionality to its En-ROADS online tool. This tool is a policy simulation model that allows users to design their own scenarios and policy combinations for limiting future climate changeThe addition of sea level rise maps allows users to investigate the impacts of potential mitigation policies on sea level. 

(Read here).

How Would You Cope in A London Flood? – Two Minute Test 

The city of London has released a two-minute quiz for residents to test how they would cope if a flood entered their home. The test is designed in a click-bait format for users to test their preparedness and to communicate the importance of being prepared for flooding. 

(Read here).