Related - Floodplain Manager October 2021

 

Climate Change Inaction Will Increase Australian Flood Costs

Over the next 40 years, natural hazards are expected to cost Australia at least $1.2 trillion in the best-case scenario of low emissions.

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A Special report commissioned by the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities has estimated the cost of natural hazards to the country in three different emissions scenarios over the next 40 years: low, medium and high. It estimated that even if emissions are reduced to zero by year 2100, it is unavoidable that natural disasters will cost Australia at least $73 billion p.a. by year 2060. On the other hand, in a high emissions scenario (where no action is taken to curb emissions), disasters will cost $94 billion p.a. Queensland and New South Wales are predicted to bear two thirds of these costs as oceans warm, permitting tropical cyclones to move south and increase flood risks. Melbourne and Brisbane will both be exposed to high flood impacts due to increasing population density in close proximity to major rivers in these cities. Cutting emissions now is essential for minimising future costs of natural disasters in Australia.

(Read more here and here).

High Summer Flood Risk for Eastern Australia

Eastern Australia is likely to experience a wet summer this year with the climate currently primed for floods and cyclones.

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The severe weather outlook for the coming summer has been released by the Bureau of Meteorology, which suggests more heavy rainfall is on its way. A combination of warm ocean waters to the north, the breakup of the negative Indian Ocean Dipole to the west, and the likely development of La Niña to the east is producing a climate conducive to above average rainfall in northern and eastern Australia. With soil moisture already above average in large sections of the country’s east, there is a high risk of flooding over summer. There may also be above average risk of tropical cyclones and tropical lows this season.

(Read more here).

New Focus for Australian Risk Reduction Research

The newly established Natural Hazards Research Australia centre is developing its research priorities for disaster risk reduction and community resilience.

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The centre has released a discussion paper and is encouraging feedback from interested stakeholders and researchers as part of the process of developing its national scale priorities. The paper proposes three foundational themes: communities and workforces of the future; sustainable, safe and healthy natural landscapes; resilient built environment. These three pillars of the research program are supported by functional themes that are intended to anchor the research in specific issues and needs and by driving change themes, which involve the use of research to inform institutional and organisational change.

(Read more here and here).

Warragamba Mitigation Dam EIS Released

The Environmental Impact Statement for the raising of Warragamba Dam has been released by WaterNSW and is currently on public exhibition.

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WaterNSW proposes to raise the height of the dam by 14 m to mitigate the risk to life and property posed by major floods in the highly developed Nepean and Hawkesbury floodplains of Western Sydney. However, the project has been met with strong opposition from conservation and Indigenous groups concerned with the impacts the dam will have on threatened species and cultural heritage sites in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area upstream of the dam. Floodplain Management Australia (FMA) is seeking comments from its members regarding the benefits and costs of the proposal to assist in the preparation of its submission on the EIS. Member responses should be emailed to FMA’s Executive Officer.

(Read more here, here and here).

Challenge Heard by High Court in Brisbane Floods Class Action

Flood victims of the 2011 Brisbane floods have gone to the High Court to challenge the decision of the NSW Court of Appeal to uphold an appeal by Seqwater.

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In 2019 the NSW Supreme Court ruled that Seqwater, as the operator of Wivenhoe Dam, had acted negligently and contributed to the extent of flood damage in the 2011 floods, along with the Queensland government and Sunwater. Seqwater appealed this decision and in September of this year the NSW Court of Appeal ruled that Seqwater’s flood engineers were not in breach of the Civil Liability Act regarding the timing of water releases. The class action claimants are now appealing this decision in the High Court. The settlement that was reached with the Queensland government and with Sunwater remains in place.

(Read more here and here).

“Climate Apartheid” Exacerbates Socioeconomic Divide

Low-income communities are highly vulnerable to extreme weather events, resulting in the emergence of a “climate apartheid”.

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The devastation caused by Hurricane Ida in New York City, where the majority of casualties were immigrants residing in unapproved basement flats, illustrates how climate disasters can exacerbate social inequality. Almost 90% of the global population who are currently flood-exposed live in low- and middle-income countries, with low-income minorities more likely to live on floodplains. In these high flood risk areas rent tends to be more affordable for those on a lower income and housing of a lower quality. Many people with flood exposure live in metropolitan areas with high population densities and where there are fewer green spaces. Large impervious spaces, such as concrete, car parks and highways, force water to run off and increase flood risks. As climate change intensifies flood risks, larger numbers of people will be exposed in low-, middle- and high-income countries, but the brunt of risk will be borne by low-income communities. These communities usually have a lower recovery time from natural disasters as they have fewer resources with which to respond and these resources can dwindle through repeated exposure to flood events.

(Read more here).

Impacts of Sea Level Rise in the Long Term

Countries in East, Southeast and South Asia will face the greatest exposure to sea level rise, both in this century and beyond.

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A US-German team of researchers has assessed the present-day geographical distribution of the global population and global elevation data against a range of multi-century sea level projections to estimate future exposure to sea level rise over the next 200 to 2,000 years. Results suggest that China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, four of the five nations currently building the greatest new coal capacity, will be most greatly exposed. Low-lying areas, currently occupied by up to 15% of the global population, will be exposed to the high tides, while many small island nations will face almost complete loss of land.

(Read more here).

The Value of Hydrogeomorphic Floodplain Maps

Hydrogeomorphic floodplain maps can be valuable and computationally efficient tools for riverine flood risk studies.

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New research out of Sweden suggests that these maps can be a useful alternative to hydrologically derived flood hazard maps that don’t depend on the availability of hydrological data. However, the consistency of these hydrogeomorphic floodplain models with hydrological flood hazard maps is reduced in areas that are dry, steep, very flat or proximal to the coast.

(Read more here).

Award winning approach for flood forecast accuracy evaluation

New research into flooding in Uganda uses flood impact reports in identifying flood triggers and verifying flood forecasts.

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This new methodology developed at the University of Reading has won the category of best new metric using non-traditional observations in a World Meteorological Organisation competition. The approach uses flood impact reports, which provide information on the damage to infrastructure and crops, the number of fatalities and financial losses caused by past flood events, to supplement traditional river gauge data in areas of Uganda where this data may be scarce. The reports can be used to verify forecasts to vulnerable communities and allow them to prepare for potential floods.

(Read more here).

Global Warming Brings a Tropical Cyclone to Omani Desert

On 3 October a rare tropical cyclone brought three years’ worth of rainfall to the desert in northern Oman in just 24 hours.

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Cyclone Shaheen killed at least 13 people, displaced over 5,000 and dumped 369 mm of rain on the city of al-Khaboura. Climate change is increasing air temperatures and, with it, the amount of moisture air can hold. The capacity of storms to produce precipitation is therefore increasing, resulting in more intense rainfall events, such as that experienced by northern Oman.

(Read more here and here).

Applications of Augmented Reality to Flash Flood Education

Primary school children in Japan are learning about the dangers of flash flooding using augmented reality.

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Students are shown how quickly floodwaters can rise and are taught how to react to emergency situations in an immersive and memorable experience. Similarly, virtual reality is enhancing flash flood education for school children in Thailand. While these technologies are effective means of teaching about flash floods, the necessary equipment is expensive and requires experts to design simulations of the hazard.

(Read more here and here).

Economic and Social Disruption Caused by Climate-Related Evacuations

Climate disasters are forcing an ever-increasing number of people into displacement.

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While evacuations are an effective emergency response that can be life-saving, they can also displace large groups of people from their homes for extended periods of time. The “rescue” paradigm of evacuation focuses on removing people from imminent threat, but tends to forget the social and economic impacts of prolonged displacement. The UN projects that the cost to small island nations of disaster-related losses may amount to 4% of their GDPs, while the recent evacuation of tens of thousands of people in South Sudan to protect them from flooding has increased the threat of conflict between communities. Climate change is set to exacerbate the existing costs of displacement by increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

(Read more here and here).

2020 Global Natural Disaster Assessment Report

Flood disasters were the most frequent type of natural disaster in the world in 2020.

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The International Federation of Red Cross has released its 2020 Global Natural Disaster Assessment Report in collaboration with the National Disaster Reduction Center of China. The report suggests that in 2020 flood disasters were 43% more frequent than the historic average, but resulted in 7% fewer deaths. On the whole, major natural disasters were 4% less frequent than historic levels, but resulted in far fewer fatalities (73% less) and higher direct economic losses (29% higher).

(Read more here).

WMO’s Sustainability Strategy for its Flash Flood Guidance System

The World Meteorological Organisation has released a Sustainability Strategy for its Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS).

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The FFGS is an interactive system developed to provide meteorological and hydrological forecasters and disaster management agencies with information regarding flash flooding. It has helped support the development of early warnings for flash flooding in 60 countries in projects affecting 40% of the global population. The new Sustainability Strategy for the FFGS was approved by the Extraordinary World Meteorological Congress and focuses on broadening its governance structure to make it more inclusive, increasing training efforts, enhancing the visibility of the system and developing the resources necessary to support the system.

(Read more here and here).

International Floods

There were 21 international floods reported across 16 countries in October 2021. At least 167 people died and more than 650,000 were displaced.

Internationally significant floods included:

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China

Heavy rainfall and continuous storms have caused flooding and landslides in China’s Shanxi Province. More than 120,000 people have been displaced and five people have died, while 190,000 hectares of crops have been damaged. Activity has been suspended at 60 coal mines in the province, exacerbating the energy shortage and power cuts China is currently facing. In neighbouring Hebei province three people died when a bus fell into a flooded river.

(Read more here and here).

India

India has been hit by several floods this month in three regions of the country. In the eastern state of West Bengal 11 people died and 500,000 people were forced to evacuate when sustained heavy rainfall produced flooding that also extensively damaged farmland. Intense rainfall caused flooding and mudslides in the south-western state of Kerala, damaging roads and homes. Officials reported 42 fatalities and the displacement of at least 5,000 people. Meanwhile, in the northern state of Uttarakhand a further 27 people died in floods and landslides caused by heavy rain.

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

Nepal

Heavy rainfall falling on already saturated slopes has triggered floods and landslides in Nepal. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority reported 29 fatalities with a further 2 people missing. Flooding has extensively damaged crops and landslides have blocked several roads.

(Read more here).

Philippines

Tropical Storm Kompasu battered northern Philippines this month, bringing strong winds and heavy rainfall that induced flooding and landslides. Over 11,000 people have been displaced and 13 have died, five of whom died as a result of flash flooding in Palawan Province. The storm damaged or destroyed 109 houses, left 108 roads and 21 bridges damaged and resulted in power cuts in 58 cities or municipalities.

(Read more here).

Diary

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

Resources

AIDR’s Annual Major Incidents Report

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience has published its annual Major Incidents Report for 2020-21. This report includes an overview of the major incidents across Australia from an emergency management perspective, including the severe storm and flood events that impacted New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. It also discusses a tsunami warning that was issued for Norfolk Island in response to an earthquake north-east of New Zealand.

(Read here).

Decoding Danger Documentary on Australian Natural Hazards

A new ABC documentary presents the science behind some of the greatest natural hazard threats in Australia. Three episodes cover bushfires and firestorms, storms and floods and predators.

(Read here).

Proceedings of 2021 Australian Disaster Resilience Conference

The annual Australian Disaster Resilience Conference took place online in October, providing a forum for a national discussion about local impact of disasters. The conference focused on discussing practices and concepts in community engagement and collaborative decision making to improve disaster resilience and reduce risk. The conference proceedings have been made available online.

(Read here).

Systemic Disaster Risk Handbook

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience has released a Systemic Disaster Risk Handbook intended to support decision makers in the area of disaster risk. With hazards increasing in frequency and often compounding, exposing ever more systemic vulnerabilities, traditional approaches to disaster risk reduction are quickly becoming outdated. This Handbook discusses the importance of addressing systemic risks and provides potential applications of that mindset to decision making processes.

(Read here).

Transformative Scenarios in a Climate-Challenged World

Reos Partners and RMIT University have developed Transformative Scenarios in a Climate-challenged World resources for use by organisational leaders in emergency management, including agencies, government departments and community organisations. The resources use a board game analogy for leaders to test the strategies they have already developed against a range of plausible scenarios that may impact Australia and New Zealand based on climate trends.

(Read here and here).

New UN World Flood Mapping Tool

A new World Flood Mapping Tool developed by the UN generates maps of historical floods since 1985, with worldwide coverage at a 30 m spatial resolution. The tool is intended to assist in flood risk management and have applications in urban planning. It will be a particularly valuable resource in poorer countries where flood risk maps are scarce.

(Read here and here).

Global Flood Monitoring Tool Released

A beta version has been released of a Global Flood Monitoring tool that uses Sentinel-1 satellite data to create flood monitoring maps with a time lag of only 8 hours from real time. The tool is designed to inform emergency responses and flood preparation strategies and to thereby reduce the impacts of future floods.

(Read here).

Research into Participatory Techniques for Flood Risk Management Decision-Making

A team of researchers from the UK has evaluated the potential of a participatory modelling approach to flood risk management. In participatory models the decision-making process is accessible by all stakeholders, not just experts in hydrologic and hydraulic modelling, which enables local knowledge to inform flood risk management strategies. The research examines the common participatory techniques of Bayesian networks, system dynamics and fuzzy cognitive mapping and concludes that the local context should inform the decision of technique selection.

(Read here).

Links Between Hydrologic Signatures and Stream Processes

A recent review of research into hydrologic signatures suggests they can be used as a valuable resource for hydrologists using streamflow records. The signatures in these records can help to identify the stream processes that produced them, including groundwater, connectivity and channel processes. The review catalogues over 50 hydrologic signatures from a range of studies to link the signatures to specific stream processes.

(Read here).

State of the Cryosphere Report

The International Cryosphere Climate Initiative has published a new State of the Cryosphere Report that discusses how the impacts of climate change on the cryosphere will have irreversible effects on the global population. The report examines melting of the polar ice sheets, glacial retreat and thawing of permafrost. These waters are acidifying at a far greater rate than warmer waters.

(Read here).