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Vulnerability assessment of urban community and critical infrastructures for integrated flood risk management and climate adaptation strategies

Rudolf Espada (School of Agricutlural, Computational and Environmental Sciences, and International Centre for Applied Climate Sciences, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)
Armando Apan (School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, and International Centre for Applied Climate Sciences, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)
Kevin McDougall (School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 11 September 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to develop an integrated framework for assessing the flood risk and climate adaptation capacity of an urban area and its critical infrastructures to help address flood risk management issues and identify climate adaptation strategies.

Design/methodology/approach

Using the January 2011 flood in the core suburbs of Brisbane City, Queensland, Australia, various spatial analytical tools (i.e. digital elevation modeling and urban morphological characterization with 3D analysis, spatial analysis with fuzzy logic, proximity analysis, line statistics, quadrat analysis, collect events analysis, spatial autocorrelation techniques with global Moran’s I and local Moran’s I, inverse distance weight method, and hot spot analysis) were implemented to transform and standardize hazard, vulnerability, and exposure indicating variables. The issue on the sufficiency of indicating variables was addressed using the topological cluster analysis of a two-dimension self-organizing neural network (SONN) structured with 100 neurons and trained by 200 epochs. Furthermore, the suitability of flood risk modeling was addressed by aggregating the indicating variables with weighted overlay and modified fuzzy gamma overlay operations using the Bayesian joint conditional probability weights. Variable weights were assigned to address the limitations of normative (equal weights) and deductive (expert judgment) approaches. Applying geographic information system (GIS) and appropriate equations, the flood risk and climate adaptation capacity indices of the study area were calculated and corresponding maps were generated.

Findings

The analyses showed that on the average, 36 (approximately 813 ha) and 14 per cent (approximately 316 ha) of the study area were exposed to very high flood risk and low adaptation capacity, respectively. In total, 93 per cent of the study area revealed negative adaptation capacity metrics (i.e. minimum of −23 to <0), which implies that the socio-economic resources in the area are not enough to increase climate resilience of the urban community (i.e. Brisbane City) and its critical infrastructures.

Research limitations/implications

While the framework in this study was obtained through a robust approach, the following are the research limitations and recommended for further examination: analyzing and incorporating the impacts of economic growth; population growth; technological advancement; climate and environmental disturbances; and climate change; and applying the framework in assessing the risks to natural environments such as in agricultural areas, forest protection and production areas, biodiversity conservation areas, natural heritage sites, watersheds or river basins, parks and recreation areas, coastal regions, etc.

Practical implications

This study provides a tool for high level analyses and identifies adaptation strategies to enable urban communities and critical infrastructure industries to better prepare and mitigate future flood events. The disaster risk reduction measures and climate adaptation strategies to increase urban community and critical infrastructure resilience were identified in this study. These include mitigation on areas of low flood risk or very high climate adaptation capacity; mitigation to preparedness on areas of moderate flood risk and high climate adaptation capacity; mitigation to response on areas of high flood risk and moderate climate adaptation capacity; and mitigation to recovery on areas of very high flood risk and low climate adaptation capacity. The implications of integrating disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation strategies were further examined.

Originality/value

The newly developed spatially explicit analytical technique, identified in this study as the Flood Risk-Adaptation Capacity Index-Adaptation Strategies (FRACIAS) Linkage/Integrated Model, allows the integration of flood risk and climate adaptation assessments which had been treated separately in the past. By applying the FRACIAS linkage/integrated model in the context of flood risk and climate adaptation capacity assessments, the authors established a framework for enhancing measures and adaptation strategies to increase urban community and critical infrastructure resilience to flood risk and climate-related events.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Australian Government – Department of Education and Training and Scope Global for providing and managing the Endeavour Postgraduate Award scholarship fund, respectively. The Brisbane City Council, ENERGEX Limited, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, and Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) and Government Information Service (QGIS) are also sincerely acknowledged for the data sets used in the study.

Citation

Espada, R., Apan, A. and McDougall, K. (2017), "Vulnerability assessment of urban community and critical infrastructures for integrated flood risk management and climate adaptation strategies", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 375-411. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-03-2015-0010

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited