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Assessing Urban Flooding Vulnerability using a Social-Ecological-Technological Framework in North American Cities

Authors: Heejun Chang*, Portland State University, Chingwen Cheng, Arizona State University, Nancy Grimm, Arizona State University, David Iwaniec, Georgia State University, Yeowon Kim, Arizona State University, Timon McPhearson, The New School, Arun Pallathadka, Portland State University, Bernice Rosenzweig, City University of New York, Tiffany Troxler, Florida International University, Claire Welty, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Rae Zimmerman, New York University, Ryan Brenner, New York University
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Water Resources and Hydrology, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: urban flood, vulnerability, extremes, spatial analysis, mapping
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Climate change is aggravating flood concerns in North American cities by increasing the frequency and magnitude of extreme rainfall events. As urban populations will continue to grow through the 21st century, more people are risk of exposure to flooding caused by these more frequent extreme rainfall events. In order to investigate the complexity of urban floods in cities, this study applied the interlinked social-ecological-technological vulnerability system (SETS) framework and developed an Urban Flood Vulnerability (UFV) index for six selected North American cities. Indicators were selected based on the exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity dimensions of vulnerability, in addition to each respective dimension of SETS. Each indicator was normalized by city floodplain area to create spatially-explicit UFV maps at the unit of the census block group. Hotspots of urban flood vulnerable areas were identified by each dimension of SETS. The spatially-explicit framework developed in this study can be transferred to other urban areas facing challenging urban floods as well as other types of environmental hazards. The vulnerability information can be displayed via an interactive website that city practitioners can work with stakeholders and communities to create their own UFV maps through ranking and prioritizing different indicators that can help to guide policy-making for building more resilient cities.

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