Science Inventory

A Geospatial Assessment of Flood Vulnerability Reduction by Freshwater Wetlands – A Benefit Indicators Approach

Citation:

Bousquin, J. AND H. Kristen. A Geospatial Assessment of Flood Vulnerability Reduction by Freshwater Wetlands – A Benefit Indicators Approach. Frontiers in Environmental Science. Frontiers, Lausanne, Switzerland, 7:54, (2019). https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2019.00054

Impact/Purpose:

Flooding is among the most common and costly natural disasters in the United States and has been on the rise as flood mitigating habitats are lost, development places more people and infrastructure potentially at risk, and changing rainfall results in more frequent floods. Across the nation, communities are recognizing the value of flood mitigating habitats and employing green infrastructure alternatives (e.g., restoring some of those natural systems) as a way to increase their resilience. This paper focuses on wetland restoration and conservation as a means to increase flood resilience. The Rapid Benefit Indicators approach uses indicators to differentiate restoration projects based on their ability to provide flood reduction benefits downstream. A new, nationally consistent dataset is presented that follows this approach and allows communities to more quickly screen restoration and conservation projects based on the potential flood reduction benefits of the projects. A nationally consistent dataset like the one produced here expands the utility of the RBI approach, allowing several case studies that are already underway to quickly apply parts of the RBI when considering ways to increase resilience in their communities.

Description:

Flooding is among the most common and costly natural disasters in the United States. It has been on the rise as flood mitigating habitats are lost, development places more people and infrastructure potentially at risk, and changing rainfall results in altered flood frequency. Across the nation, communities are recognizing the value of flood mitigating habitats and employing green infrastructure alternatives (e.g., restoring some of those natural systems) as a way to increase resilience. However, the localities that can most easily increase their resilience in this way may not be those under the greatest risk, those utilizing the least existing natural mitigation, those having the most flood mitigating restoration opportunities, or those with the least post-flood recoverability. Freshwater wetlands have long been recognized as one of the natural systems that can reduce flood damages by retaining and detaining surface water. Small-scale community studies can capture the flood reduction benefits from existing or potentially restored wetlands. However, scalability and transferability are limits for these high resolution and data intensive studies. This paper details the development of nationally consistent set of high resolution indicators characterizing where people benefit from reduced flood risk through existing wetlands. We demonstrate how this dataset can be used at different scales (regional or local) to rapidly assess flood reduction benefits. Analysis of the Gulf Coast region and Harris County, Texas shows the communities where the most people lack these benefits compared to areas with the highest wetland restoration potential. Maps of these localities where wetland flood risk reduction benefits are most and least scarce are compared to other national scale indicators (CRSI, SoVI) to gauge their potential total resilience and examine their recoverability.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT ( JOURNAL/ PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Product Published Date: 05/03/2019
Record Last Revised: 05/20/2019
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 345122