• Flood hazard hydrology: interdisciplinary geospatial preparedness and policy

      Petty, Timothy R.; Schnabel, William; Prakash, Anupma; Folger, Peter; Djokie, Dean (2017-05)
      Floods rank as the deadliest and most frequently occurring natural hazard worldwide, and in 2013 floods in the United States ranked second only to wind storms in accounting for loss of life and damage to property. While flood disasters remain difficult to accurately predict, more precise forecasts and better understanding of the frequency, magnitude and timing of floods can help reduce the loss of life and costs associated with the impact of flood events. There is a common perception that 1) local-to-national-level decision makers do not have accurate, reliable and actionable data and knowledge they need in order to make informed flood-related decisions, and 2) because of science--policy disconnects, critical flood and scientific analyses and insights are failing to influence policymakers in national water resource and flood-related decisions that have significant local impact. This dissertation explores these perceived information gaps and disconnects, and seeks to answer the question of whether flood data can be accurately generated, transformed into useful actionable knowledge for local flood event decision makers, and then effectively communicated to influence policy. Utilizing an interdisciplinary mixed-methods research design approach, this thesis develops a methodological framework and interpretative lens for each of three distinct stages of flood-related information interaction: 1) data generation—using machine learning to estimate streamflow flood data for forecasting and response; 2) knowledge development and sharing—creating a geoanalytic visualization decision support system for flood events; and 3) knowledge actualization—using heuristic toolsets for translating scientific knowledge into policy action. Each stage is elaborated on in three distinct research papers, incorporated as chapters in this dissertation, that focus on developing practical data and methodologies that are useful to scientists, local flood event decision makers, and policymakers. Data and analytical results of this research indicate that, if certain conditions are met, it is possible to provide local decision makers and policy makers with the useful actionable knowledge they need to make timely and informed decisions.