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Recent changes in flood damage in the United States from observations and ACME model

Presentation Date
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 8:00am
New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center - Poster Hall D-F



Despite efforts to mitigate flood hazards in flood-prone areas, survey- and report-based flood databases show that flood damage has increased and emerged as one of the most costly disaster in the United States since the 1990s. Understanding the mechanism driving the changes in flood damage is therefore critical for reducing flood risk. In this study, we first conduct a comprehensive analysis of the changing characteristics of flood damage at local, state and country level. Results show a significant increasing trend in the number of flood hazards, causing economic losses of up to $7 billion per year. The ratio of flood events that caused tangible economical cost to the total flood events has exhibited a non-significant increasing trend before 2007 followed by a significant decrease, indicating a changing vulnerability to floods. Analysis also reveals distinct spatial and temporal patterns in the threshold intensity of flood hazards with tangible economical cost. To understand the mechanism behind the increasing flood damage, we develop a flood damage economic model coupled with the integrated hydrological modeling system of ACME that features a river routing model with an inundation parameterization and a water use and regulation model. The model is evaluated over the country against historical records. Several numerical experiments are then designed to explore the mechanisms behind the recent changes in flood damage from the perspective of flood hazard, exposure and vulnerability, which constitute flood damage. The role of human activities such as reservoir operations and water use in modifying regional floods are also explored using the new tool, with the goal of improving understanding and modeling of vulnerability to flood hazards.

Funding Program Area(s)