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Assessing Flood Vulnerability: Learning From The Past To Prepare For The Future

The only way we can truly protect ourselves from falling victim to future flood events is to understand where our vulnerabilities are, and how we can prevent the type of devastation we saw in 2013. That’s exactly what Phillip Mutulu and the project team are working on; a massive exercise in gathering data for a study that has never been done before in Alberta. The team is analyzing rainfall, climate change, watershed and watershed characteristics, to understand how these variables affect the resulting runoff. Looking at the elements of the various rivers spanning the province, and gathering data from as far back as 1999, the study is focusing particularly on the relationship between the storms that cause floods and the resulting degree of the floods themselves; identification of areas that are prone to flooding, and the distribution of the current hydrometric (observation stations) network in relation to providing effective flood warnings

We’re going to an unprecedented level of analysis here, which will allow us to more accurately predict future flood emergencies and proactively mitigate the effects by identifying specific problem areas to be resolved. Mutulu explains that in the world of flood vulnerability studies, the issue of climate change has not previously been weaved into the equation. Climate change is a major factor that some think could have played a role in amplifying the 2013 flood and will continue to affect future flood events, so accounting for it in this study will help paint a more accurate picture. The assessment will be complete in July 2014, leaving us in a much better position to understand the nature of floods in Alberta, and how we can be better prepared. 

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