UCI Flood Modeling Framework Reveals Increased Risk and Disparities in Los Angeles | UCI News


Irvine, California, October 31, 2022 – According to a study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, the risk of flooding in Los Angeles is far greater than previously indicated by flood maps set by the federal government, and communities in low-income and marginalized face a much higher threat.

The results are the product of a recently developed high-resolution flood modeling platform that can assess risk every 10 feet across the 2,700 square mile expanse of the Greater Los Angeles Basin. The framework, described in an article published today in Natural durabilityconnects risks related to precipitation, stream flow, and storm surges with demographic data, including population density, ethnicity, race, and economic disadvantage.

“We have developed an innovative new flood risk modeling platform that, for the first time, allows systematic quantification of household exposure and inequalities in major metropolitan areas,” said the lead author. Brett Sander, UCI Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “This platform could, in principle, be applied everywhere to not only assess the risks but measure the effectiveness and fairness of the proposed solutions. And because the modeling is at a very fine resolution, anyone can immediately visualize the risk and consider how it might affect them.

A 100-year flood in Los Angeles would put more than 400,000 people at risk and property damage could exceed $50 billion. According to UCI researchers, the losses would be comparable to those felt during severe hurricanes such as Katrina in 2005, Sandy in 2012 and Irma and Harvey in 2017, which each caused tens of billions of dollars in damage and displaced people. hundreds of thousands of people. people.

Los Angeles is at less risk of impact from a tropical cyclone – the most common source of flooding in the southeastern United States – but Southern California is subject to sometimes catastrophic levels of rainfall due to atmospheric fluvial events caused by climate change.

“The impacts of a severe flood would not be evenly distributed across the Angelinos,” Sanders said. “Disadvantaged communities are disproportionately affected and are less well protected. Recovery from floods is often protracted and incomplete in these areas due to uneven government responses, further exacerbating inequalities.

According to the researchers, a significant part of the risk – and the inequality of possible outcomes – in Greater Los Angeles stems from the region’s built environment.

“The impacts of a severe flood would not be evenly distributed across Angelinos. Disadvantaged communities are disproportionately affected and they are less well protected,” says Brett Sanders, UCI Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, here walking down the canal from Santa Ana River.Jo Kwon/Spectrum News

“Recent catastrophic flooding across the United States demonstrated that cities are ill-prepared and infrastructure is under-provisioned,” the co-author said. Richard Matthew, UCI professor of urban planning and public policy. “As we’ve seen recently in Texas and Florida, areas at risk of flooding have been underestimated by previous mapping, especially among disadvantaged communities, and that’s also the case here in Los Angeles. and in Orange County.”

Matthew noted that disaster drivers differ from inland to coastal areas. Poorer regions are more affected by intense rainfall, which causes runoff to pool in streets and overwhelm flood channels, while wealthier communities along the coast are more vulnerable to flooding caused by storm surges and waves. Each set of hazards requires different mitigation measures, he stressed.

“The development of this modeling framework is particularly timely given that the United States is increasingly focused on climate change, committed to infrastructure investment, concerned with social justice, and needs tools to facilitate community participation in infrastructure planning and design,” Sanders said.

The project received financial support from the National Science Foundation, high-performance computing assistance from the Computing and Computing Systems Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Wyoming, and data from Los Angeles County and Orange County. . Other researchers included Amir AghaKouchak, Steven Davis, Daniel Kahl, Jochen Schubert and Nicola Ulibarri of UCI; Katharine Mach of the University of Miami; David Brady of UC Riverside; and Fonna Forman of UC San Diego.

About the UCI’s Brilliant Future campaign: Launched publicly on October 4, 2019, the Bright Future Campaign aims to raise awareness and support the UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and raising $2 billion in philanthropic investments, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more . The Henry Samueli School of Engineering plays a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/the-henry-samueli-school-of-engineering

About University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by US News and World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, leading research, innovation, and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It is located in one of the safest and most vibrant communities in the world and is the second largest employer in Orange County, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion globally. of State. To learn more about the UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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