Orange County Branch Newsletter

December 2015


Climate Change on Flood Damages

By: Roger Chung, PE, QSD, QSP

On October 8th, Professor Brett F. Sanders, Ph.D., Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Irvine gave a presentation on Communicating Coastal Flooding Risk with Street-Level Data.  Dr. Sanders is an expert in flood modeling and leads the National Science Foundation funded FloodRISE project at UC Irvine which is focused on increasing coastal resilience to extreme flooding events and sea level rise.

The projected impacts of climate change on flood damages are staggering. Coastal areas are primarily at risk due to a combination of rising sea levels, population migration to coastal areas, and decaying civil infrastructure, but urban flood risk in inland areas is also a concern. Around the world, there is a need to increase flood resilience and manage retreat at an unprecedented pace to avoid the type of catastrophic losses to communities that have occurred in places like New Orleans as a result of Katrina and parts of New York and New Jersey as a result of Sandy. Hydraulic engineers have powerful tools at our disposal to characterize flooding scenarios, but to date our efforts have had relatively little success educating the public about flood hazards and promoting the type of behavioral changes, policy changes, and infrastructure that offers enhanced resilience to extreme events. The FloodRISE project aims to co-design models of flood risk with communities to test the hypothesis that a more deliberate process of community engagement can work to expedite action and promote a higher level of equity among community members. In this presentation, Dr. Sanders shared the work by his modeling team to advance street-level flood risk modeling technology, work by colleagues in social sciences to improve flood risk communication, and community engagement activities.