Understanding the knowledge gaps between flooding data and risk perceptions for building institutional resilience: A comparative analysis of flood risk knowledge systems across seven North American cities

Authors: Chingwen Cheng*, The Design School, Arizona State University, Parisa Setayesh, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Heejun Chang, Department of Geography, Portland State University, William Solecki, Dept. of Geography and Environmental Science & Institute for Sustainable Cities Hunter College - City University of New York , Tischa A. Muñoz-Erickson, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service, Tiffany Troxler, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Changdeok Gim, School of Humanities, University of California Irvine, Yeowon Kim, Urban Systems Lab, The New School, Marta Berbés-Blázquez, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University, Robert Hobbins, Urban Studies Institute, Georgia State University, David M. Iwaniec, Urban Studies Institute, Georgia State University, Cliff Davidson, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems, Syracuse University, Timon McPhearson, Urban Systems Lab, The New School, Bernice Rosenzweig, Environmental Science, Sarah Lawrence College
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Urban and Regional Planning, Social Geography
Keywords: risk perception, flood hazard, urban flood resilience, institutional knowledge systems, knowledge gap, institutional resilience, risk communication
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban resilience outcomes are affected by risk perception and communication in terms of how risks are perceived in constructing hazard data and how institutions perceive their risks. This study examines seven cities in the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainable Research Network (UREx SRN): Baltimore, Phoenix, Portland, Miami, New York, Syracuse, and San Juan, for the perceived risks extracted from an extensive stakeholder survey (n= 424) conducted between 2017 to 2020 related to 1) concerns about flood hazards, 2) sources of knowledge to assess risks, 3) priorities for climate change planning, and 4) adaptive capacity in decision-making mechanisms. We compare the perceived flood risks with the flood hazard dataset provided by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) (2006–2018). The results reveal a gap between NCEI hazard data and local institutions’ risk perceptions represented by stakeholders who took the survey. San Juan illustrates a small gap between the hazard data and risk perceptions yet ranks lower in adaptive capacity to climate change. Phoenix has a large gap between the high observed flood risks and low risk perception. Portland also has a large gap but in a reverse direction that stakeholders have high risk perceptions yet hazard data shows a low frequency of events. This study raises further questions on how institutions construct flood data and whose narratives were recorded. This study demonstrates the knowledge gaps between the observed and perceived risks and its implication for understanding the governance of flood resilience to address climate change uncertainty, adaptive management, and coping capacity.

Abstract Information

This abstract is already part of a session. View the session here.

To access contact information login