Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2287-2301, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-2287-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
26 Oct 2016
Towards thresholds of disaster management performance under demographic change: exploring functional relationships using agent-based modeling
Gunnar Dressler1,3, Birgit Müller1,3, Karin Frank1,3, and Christian Kuhlicke2 1Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Department of Ecological Modelling, Leipzig, 04318, Germany
2Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology, Leipzig, 04318, Germany
3University of Osnabrück, Institute for Environmental Systems Research, Osnabrück, Germany
Abstract. Effective disaster management is a core feature for the protection of communities against natural disasters such as floods. Disaster management organizations (DMOs) are expected to contribute to ensuring this protection. However, what happens when their resources to cope with a flood are at stake or the intensity and frequency of the event exceeds their capacities? Many cities in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, were strongly hit by several floods in the last years and are additionally challenged by demographic change, with an ageing society and out-migration leading to population shrinkage in many parts of Saxony. Disaster management, which is mostly volunteer-based in Germany, is particularly affected by this change, leading to a loss of members. We propose an agent-based simulation model that acts as a "virtual lab" to explore the impact of various changes on disaster management performance. Using different scenarios we examine the impact of changes in personal resources of DMOs, their access to operation relevant information, flood characteristics as well as differences between geographic regions. A loss of DMOs and associated manpower caused by demographic change has the most profound impact on the performance. Especially in rural, upstream regions population decline in combination with very short lead times can put disaster management performance at risk.

Citation: Dressler, G., Müller, B., Frank, K., and Kuhlicke, C.: Towards thresholds of disaster management performance under demographic change: exploring functional relationships using agent-based modeling, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2287-2301, https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-2287-2016, 2016.
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Short summary
Disaster management is a core feature to protect communities against floods. But what happens if a loss of resources or an increased flood frequency puts its performance at stake? We use a simulation model as a "virtual lab" to explore the impact of change processes on disaster management performance. Demographic change, causing a loss in manpower, has the most profound impact on the performance. Performance might be at risk in particular in rural, upstream regions with very short lead times.
Disaster management is a core feature to protect communities against floods. But what happens if...
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