Developing hazard lines in response to coastal flooding and sea level change

Heather R. Stevens, Anthony S. Kiem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Flooding is a current and future risk to the coastal zone. Currently, coastal planners use historical data to estimate the frequency and magnitude of flooding and develop planning tools such as hazard lines. However, in the face of climate variability and change, such flood risk estimation methods and the resultant planning tools are inadequate. This article outlines the steps, assumptions, key complexities and uncertainties associated with developing and applying hazard lines that incorporate sea level change projections. A case study, involving Lake Macquarie City Council in New South Wales, Australia, highlights the advantages and limitations of the hazard line approach at the local council level. The key findings are that hazard lines using global or state-wide sea level change benchmarks typically result in overgeneralised and inconsistent risk assessments and that new methods of flood risk estimation, flood planning and flood mitigation are required. Alternatives recommended include a move away from definitive sea level projections based on state or countrywide approximations towards the development of regionally specific adaptation plans that utilise flexible approaches, such as the identification of critical thresholds and triggers, to manage potential flood risk and enable decision-making under uncertainty.

LanguageEnglish
Pages341-360
Number of pages20
JournalUrban Policy and Research
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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sea level change
natural disaster
flooding
hazard
planning
projection
uncertainty
municipal council
estimation method
risk assessment
coastal zone
mitigation
decision making
climate
sea level
lake

Cite this

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title = "Developing hazard lines in response to coastal flooding and sea level change",
abstract = "Flooding is a current and future risk to the coastal zone. Currently, coastal planners use historical data to estimate the frequency and magnitude of flooding and develop planning tools such as hazard lines. However, in the face of climate variability and change, such flood risk estimation methods and the resultant planning tools are inadequate. This article outlines the steps, assumptions, key complexities and uncertainties associated with developing and applying hazard lines that incorporate sea level change projections. A case study, involving Lake Macquarie City Council in New South Wales, Australia, highlights the advantages and limitations of the hazard line approach at the local council level. The key findings are that hazard lines using global or state-wide sea level change benchmarks typically result in overgeneralised and inconsistent risk assessments and that new methods of flood risk estimation, flood planning and flood mitigation are required. Alternatives recommended include a move away from definitive sea level projections based on state or countrywide approximations towards the development of regionally specific adaptation plans that utilise flexible approaches, such as the identification of critical thresholds and triggers, to manage potential flood risk and enable decision-making under uncertainty.",
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Developing hazard lines in response to coastal flooding and sea level change. / Stevens, Heather R.; Kiem, Anthony S.

In: Urban Policy and Research, Vol. 32, No. 3, 2014, p. 341-360.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

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AU - Stevens,Heather R.

AU - Kiem,Anthony S.

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Flooding is a current and future risk to the coastal zone. Currently, coastal planners use historical data to estimate the frequency and magnitude of flooding and develop planning tools such as hazard lines. However, in the face of climate variability and change, such flood risk estimation methods and the resultant planning tools are inadequate. This article outlines the steps, assumptions, key complexities and uncertainties associated with developing and applying hazard lines that incorporate sea level change projections. A case study, involving Lake Macquarie City Council in New South Wales, Australia, highlights the advantages and limitations of the hazard line approach at the local council level. The key findings are that hazard lines using global or state-wide sea level change benchmarks typically result in overgeneralised and inconsistent risk assessments and that new methods of flood risk estimation, flood planning and flood mitigation are required. Alternatives recommended include a move away from definitive sea level projections based on state or countrywide approximations towards the development of regionally specific adaptation plans that utilise flexible approaches, such as the identification of critical thresholds and triggers, to manage potential flood risk and enable decision-making under uncertainty.

AB - Flooding is a current and future risk to the coastal zone. Currently, coastal planners use historical data to estimate the frequency and magnitude of flooding and develop planning tools such as hazard lines. However, in the face of climate variability and change, such flood risk estimation methods and the resultant planning tools are inadequate. This article outlines the steps, assumptions, key complexities and uncertainties associated with developing and applying hazard lines that incorporate sea level change projections. A case study, involving Lake Macquarie City Council in New South Wales, Australia, highlights the advantages and limitations of the hazard line approach at the local council level. The key findings are that hazard lines using global or state-wide sea level change benchmarks typically result in overgeneralised and inconsistent risk assessments and that new methods of flood risk estimation, flood planning and flood mitigation are required. Alternatives recommended include a move away from definitive sea level projections based on state or countrywide approximations towards the development of regionally specific adaptation plans that utilise flexible approaches, such as the identification of critical thresholds and triggers, to manage potential flood risk and enable decision-making under uncertainty.

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