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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 4 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 1097-1120, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Apr 2018

Research article | 06 Apr 2018

Going beyond the flood insurance rate map: insights from flood hazard map co-production

Adam Luke1, Brett F. Sanders1,2, Kristen A. Goodrich3, David L. Feldman2, Danielle Boudreau4, Ana Eguiarte4, Kimberly Serrano5, Abigail Reyes5, Jochen E. Schubert1, Amir AghaKouchak1, Victoria Basolo2, and Richard A. Matthew2 Adam Luke et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
  • 2Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
  • 3School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
  • 4Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Imperial Beach, CA, USA
  • 5Sustainability Initiative, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA

Abstract. Flood hazard mapping in the United States (US) is deeply tied to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Consequently, publicly available flood maps provide essential information for insurance purposes, but they do not necessarily provide relevant information for non-insurance aspects of flood risk management (FRM) such as public education and emergency planning. Recent calls for flood hazard maps that support a wider variety of FRM tasks highlight the need to deepen our understanding about the factors that make flood maps useful and understandable for local end users. In this study, social scientists and engineers explore opportunities for improving the utility and relevance of flood hazard maps through the co-production of maps responsive to end users' FRM needs. Specifically, two-dimensional flood modeling produced a set of baseline hazard maps for stakeholders of the Tijuana River valley, US, and Los Laureles Canyon in Tijuana, Mexico. Focus groups with natural resource managers, city planners, emergency managers, academia, non-profit, and community leaders refined the baseline hazard maps by triggering additional modeling scenarios and map revisions. Several important end user preferences emerged, such as (1) legends that frame flood intensity both qualitatively and quantitatively, and (2) flood scenario descriptions that report flood magnitude in terms of rainfall, streamflow, and its relation to an historic event. Regarding desired hazard map content, end users' requests revealed general consistency with mapping needs reported in European studies and guidelines published in Australia. However, requested map content that is not commonly produced included (1) standing water depths following the flood, (2) the erosive potential of flowing water, and (3) pluvial flood hazards, or flooding caused directly by rainfall. We conclude that the relevance and utility of commonly produced flood hazard maps can be most improved by illustrating pluvial flood hazards and by using concrete reference points to describe flooding scenarios rather than exceedance probabilities or frequencies.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
In this study, engineers and social scientists explore opportunities for improving the utility of flood hazard maps through focus groups with end users. Focus groups revealed that end users preferred legends that describe flood intensity both quantitatively and with qualitative reference points, as well as flood scenario descriptions that describe the magnitude (rather than frequency) of the flood. Illustrations of pluvial flooding, or flooding caused directly by rainfall, were highly desired.
In this study, engineers and social scientists explore opportunities for improving the utility...