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The Significance of Gilbert F. White's 1945 paper ‘Human Adjustment to Floods’ in the Development of Risk and Hazard Management

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Abstract

Few publications may claim to have transcended the original field in which they were written, by shaping a wide range of research areas and philosophies. In this short paper we reflect on the manner in which Gilbert F. White’s 1945 publication ‘Human adjustment to floods’ has not only shaped how we study and perceive flooding, but has also had a significance beyond its original aims, revolutionizing the ways in which hazard and risk are conceptualized more generally. Before considering the impact of ‘Human adjustment to floods’, we briefly review academic understanding of floods in the decades leading up to the 1940s and later place the 1945 paper in the context of White’s subsequent contributions to research which both developed and built on his ideas.

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... Roosevelt's New Deal Administration, which launched a series of state projects to tackle rising unemployment levels during the Great Depression in the 1930s (Wright 2000). Water management proved conductive to this interventionist approach; flood protection became unaffordable for local communities during the economic recession, and federally-funded flood control projects created much-needed jobs (Macdonald et al. 2012). In 1936, over $310 million was appropriated to subsidize 250 different flood control projects throughout the nation (Wright 2000: 11). ...
... Barrows of the university's geography department, this group studied the use of natural resources and accentuated spatial planning interventions to improve natural resource management (Macdonald et al. 2012). The increased role of the federal government in flood control, which was accompanied by growing federal expenditures on disaster relief, was a mounting concern, especially for these geographers. ...
... In his thesis,White (1945: 34) therefore called for a "geographical approach" to flood risk management, in which federal floodplain regulations and price incentives would be used to encourage an optimal use of the country's floodplains.The ideas of Barrows and White proved influential. They were embraced in a number of significant publications on water management in the 1950s and adopted by key scientists in this field(Macdonald et al. 2012). They were also taken to practice. ...
Chapter
This chapter analyses the relationship between experts and policymakers in the policymaking process of the Dutch Zuiderzee Works (the construction of the Afsluitdijk and related land reclamations in the former Zuiderzee) that took place from 1888–1932. In this process, key elements of the Dutch safety approach to floods were formed. The aim of this chapter is to showcase the role of experts in the establishment of the safety approach in the Netherlands, to use as ground for comparison in later analyses of the shift to spatial measures in this book. This chapter reconstructs the policymaking process on the Zuiderzee Works to investigate which experts were involved in this process, how these experts influenced the policy discourse on floods through their interaction with policymakers, and how this influenced distributive decision-making in this process. It finds that the interaction between experts and policymakers led to the formulation of a “strong” policy frame on floods. However, rather than toning down the attention for distributive aspects, this policy frame actually invited counter-interpretations and facilitated the recognition of distributive impacts of policy choices.
... The concept of nature-man connection in studies of disasters caused by natural hazards is due to the contribution of geographer Gilbert F. White. His publication "Human adjustment to floods" [4] can be characterized as a legacy for studies on floods, risks and risk management, environmentalism, and climate change [5]. In this context, disasters caused by natural hazards can and should be understood as ''un-natural disasters'' [6]. ...
... Studies on disasters triggered by natural hazards began in the 1920s when the US Army Corps of Engineers decided to conduct research and find solutions for flooding problems in rural and urban areas [5]. At that time, the projects focused mainly on structural interventions, and their cost-benefit was already criticized by Gilbert F. White in the publication "The Limit of Economic Justification for Flood Protection" [204]. ...
... The field of natural hazards started being analyzed in the first half of the 20th century and grew in the 1960s and 1970s through the work of Gilbert F. White, Ian Kates, and Robert Burton [5,55,120,191]. Since their inception, hazard studies have been based on the interactions between human and nature, which can have both beneficial and threatening results. When harmful, they may create hazardous situations of extreme magnitude that act on large, exposed, and vulnerable populations [95]. ...
Article
Disaster risk management is a challenging task that depends on the correct use of terms. However, the relevant terminology is not always properly established, especially when imported from other languages. This paper analyzes terms related to disasters caused by natural hazards from their early to current uses and applications. Additionally, a regional level analysis of disaster-related definitions was performed for Brazil. Based on this analysis, we suggest holistic definitions and approaches for the use of terms and their relationships. While the relevant terms have constantly evolved, it is noted that conflicts in their use—in either scientific, technical, or political environments—can result in contradictory usage, as exemplified by some Brazilian studies. The number of publications on this topic has grown since the 2000s due to technological diffusion and the increasing prevalence of climate change studies, which have contributed to a considerable increase in the use of terms such as capacity, resilience, and adaptation. Notably, the USA, Canada, and Europe are the main references for these terms. In other countries, few works have been dedicated to defining these terms, which has contributed to more damaging disasters. Providing adequate definitions for the disaster field is a complex task due to the variety of scientific areas involved. However, if the relationships between terms are well established, it is possible to adequately quantify the risk and improve disaster risk reduction. Developing countries can benefit greatly from this process since this can help them better apply their minimal resources with an emphasis on prevention and mitigation.
... Federal investments in flood control were reinforced under Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal Administration, which launched a series of state projects to tackle rising unemployment levels during the Great Depression in the 1930s (Wright 2000). Water management proved conductive to this interventionist approach; flood protection became unaffordable for local communities during the economic recession, and federally-funded flood control projects created much-needed jobs (Macdonald et al. 2012). In 1936, over $310 million was appropriated to subsidize 250 different flood control projects throughout the nation (Wright 2000: 11). ...
... With a Congress willing to fund flood control projects to create employment, these geographers considered it their mission to develop a method to better weigh the costs of flood protection against its benefits. Led by professor Harlan H. Barrows of the university's geography department, this group accentuated spatial planning interventions as a more cost-efficient way to reducing flood risks (Macdonald et al. 2012). ...
... The ideas of Barrows and White proved influential. They were embraced in a number of significant publications on water management in the 1950s and adopted by key scientists in this field (Macdonald et al. 2012). They were also taken to practice. ...
Chapter
This chapter examines the policymaking process after hurricane Katrina severely challenged the spatial governance strategy in US flood governance, embodied in the National Flood Insurance Program. In this process, reforms adopted in 2012 to “repair” the National Flood Insurance Program were partly repealed in 2014 because they produced very high premium increases. This pendulum policy shift raises questions about the extent to which and way in which these distributive impacts of the 2012 policy reforms were recognized and discussed in the political decision-making process. This chapter analyses this question with a focus on the role of experts. The chapter concludes that under the rational-administrative expertise of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a technical understanding of the problem emerged which created support for a policy solution that aimed to repair the financial structure underlying the insurance program. In doing so, attention was drawn away from the distributive impacts of this policy solution on the ground. Rather than explaining these policy developments from expert involvement alone, this chapter concludes that this specific problem understanding evolved through the interactions between experts and political actors in a situated context, in which strategic actions and collective sense-making went hand in hand.
... Federal investments in flood control were reinforced under Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal Administration, which launched a series of state projects to tackle rising unemployment levels during the Great Depression (Wright, 2000). Water management proved conductive to this interventionist approach; flood protection became unaffordable for local communities during the economic recession and federally-funded flood control projects created necessary jobs (Macdonald et al, 2012). The economic recession elicited interest from the social sciences in state planning, and vice versa. ...
... The ideas of Barrows and White proved influential. They were embraced in a number of significant publications on water management in the 1950s and adopted by key scientists in this field (Macdonald et al, 2012). They were also taken to practice. ...
... The geographer's floodplain management approach Federal investments in flood control were reinforced under Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal Administration, which launched a series of state projects to tackle rising unemployment levels during the Great Depression (Wright, 2000). Water management proved conductive to this interventionist approach; flood protection became unaffordable for local communities during the economic recession and federally-funded flood control projects created necessary jobs (Macdonald et al., 2012). The economic recession elicited interest from the social sciences in state planning, and vice versa. ...
... The ideas of Barrows and White proved influential. They were embraced in a number of significant publications on water management in the 1950s and adopted by key scientists in this field (Macdonald et al., 2012). They were also taken to practice. ...
Article
A democratic premise is that expert-influence should not extent into the political domain of environmental policymaking. This article analyses the ­relationship between experts and policymakers in the historical development of the National Flood Insurance Program as a flood governance strategy in the United States. The article draws three conclusions. First, while experts asserted great influence on the development of this policy program, underlying values were evalu­ated and judged by policymakers. Second, as socio-political values changed, new types of experts were involved in the policymaking process. Third, these different types of experts had different implications for how value-conflicts were addressed.
... However, while the motivations may differ, many similar principles apply across these contexts regarding the effectiveness of such communication, such as understanding the perspectives, needs, and specific concerns of communities, partnering with communities and decision-makers, through to communicating honestly and openly. Next the definitions of risk are briefly reviewed, before proceeding in floodplains contributes to disasters, and was an early advocate for forms of flood management and mitigation that go beyond engineering, to consider public policy and social and human factors (see review in Macdonald et al., 2012). This, combined with the risk perception work of Fischhoff and Slovic in the 1970s (Fischhoff et al., 1978;Slovic, 1987), helped form the basis for risk communication work that understood that public perception of risk varies due to differing degrees of 'control, catastrophic potential, and familiarity' (Lofstedt, 2010;p. ...
Chapter
The study of risk communication has been explored in several diverse contexts, from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including psychology, health, media studies, visualization studies, the public understanding of science, and social science. Such diversity creates a puzzle of recommendations to address the many challenges of communicating risk before, during, and after a natural hazard event and disasters. In this paper, the history and evolution of risk communication across these diverse contexts is reviewed, followed by a discussion of risk communication particular to natural hazards and disasters. Example models of risk communication in the disaster and natural hazard context are outlined, followed by examples of studies into disaster risk communication from Aotearoa New Zealand, and key best practice principles for communicating risk in these contexts. Considerations are also provided on how science and risk communication can work together more effectively in future in the natural hazard and disaster space. Such considerations include the importance of scientists, risk managers, and officials communicating to meet a diversity of decision-makers’ needs and understanding the evolution of those needs in a crisis across time demands and forecast horizons. To acquire a better understanding of such needs, participatory approaches to risk assessment and communication present the greatest potential in developing risk communication that is useful, useable, and used. Through partnerships forged at the problem formulation stage, risk assessors and communicators can gain an understanding of the science that needs to be developed to meet decision-needs, while communities and decision-makers can develop a greater understanding of the limitations of the science and risk assessment, leading to stronger and more trusting relationships. It is critically important to evaluate these partnership programs due to the challenges that can arise (such as resourcing and trust), particularly given risk communication can often occur in an environment subject to power imbalances due to social structures and sociopolitical landscape. There is also often not enough attention paid to the evaluation of the risk communication products themselves, which is problematic because what we think is being communicated may unintentionally mislead due to formatting and display choices. By working in partnership with affected communities to develop decision-relevant communication products using evidence-based product design, we can work toward communicating risk in the most effective, and ethical, way.
... Gilbert F. White argued that solutions for these complex and difficult problems involved determining the most "relatively satisfactory arrangement of human occupancy" (White, 1945: 1). Yet underlying this approach was an analytical assumption of rational actors dealing with calculable risks in uncritical cost-benefit analyses -a governing rationality that ignores underlying power inequities and the political dynamics allowing such calculations to accumulate legitimacy (Macdonald et al., 2012;Platt et al., 1997;Robbins, 2004;Watts, 1983;White, 1945). Contemporary research of environmental hazards addresses more diverse problems including climate change, disaster management, and toxic exposures (Dalby, 2013;Grove, 2010Grove, , 2013Mansfield, 2012), as well as forceful hazards in the former Soviet Union such as nuclear development and waste (Brown, 2013;Petryna, 2013;Stawkowski, 2016). ...
Article
On 17 June 2015, an unprecedented series of rain events caused a wall of water to tear through an affluent urban neighborhood in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. The flood damaged 700 homes, displaced 67 families, killed 19 people, left 3 more unaccounted for – while also leaving nearly 300 animals either drowned or killed as the flood destroyed the Soviet-era Tbilisi Zoo. Deadly and headline grabbing interactions among humans and non-humans continued surprising those in Tbilisi as diverse actors tried to control the precarious situation unfolding in this post-Soviet urban landscape, and survivors of all sorts roamed the streets. I illustrate these relationships by analyzing news coverage, government statements, technical reports, archival resources, and my own experiences as a participant observer within the events surrounding the flood. In doing so I extend arguments by Foucault and his interlocuters to present a case of more-than-human government, requiring the arrangement of non- human elements to maintain the life of a political population such as the Tbilisi citizenry. As I demonstrate, such governmental practices require not only calculations of what life to protect and what to destroy via sovereignty, discipline, and biopolitics, but also a constellation of other powers, including historically embedded regimes of truth and authority. From this perspective, the security of a human population may at times rely on its imbrication with the government of animals and infrastructure alike, and vice versa – by securing, disciplining, knowing, and at times destroying our material environments and companion species, however we may be related.
... The opponents, generally from an engineering background, found White's ideas on human adjustments highly controversial, and argued he promoted un-American ideas. They were great proponents of engineering as a panacea for solving all flood management problems [77]. However, White's 1958 study Regulating Flood Plain Management and increasing loss of property and cost of flood damage, changed the course of the debate in White's favour. ...
Article
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This paper analyses five major transitions in watershed management in the Lower Mississippi River from the early 19th century to the present. A conceptual framework is developed for analysing the role of visions, agency, and niches in water management transitions and applied to a historical case on water management in the Lower Mississippi River. It is shown that water management regimes change over time and that major transitions were preceded by niches, in which new visions were developed and empowered. The case shows that: (i) emerging visions play an important role in guiding transitions; (ii) agency enables the further diffusion of visions and niches; (iii) vision champions play an important role in transitions, but are not decisive; (iv) each transition has led to an extension of the number of societal functions provided, which has led to more complex water management regimes in which functions are combined and integrated; and (v) external landscape factors are important, as they can lead to awareness and urgency in important decision making processes.
... Hitherto, the dominant approach to flooding focuses on managing excessive rainfall and conceives of vulnerability as consisting only of exposure to floods (Macdonald et al. 2012). Therefore, unlucky victims of flooding "happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time" (Aragón-Durand 2009). ...
... The opponents, generally from an engineering background, found White's ideas on human adjustments highly controversial, and argued he promoted un-American ideas. They were great proponents of engineering as a panacea for solving all flood management problems [72]. However, White's 1958 study Regulating Flood Plain Management and increasing loss of property and cost of flood damage, changed the course of the debate in White's favour. ...
Preprint
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This paper analyses six major transitions in watershed management in the Lower Mississippi River from the early 19th century till present. A conceptual framework is developed for analysing the role of visions, agency and niches in water management transitions and applied to a historical case on water management in the Lower Mississippi River. It is shown that water management regimes change over time and that major transitions were preceded by niches, in which new visions were developed and empowered. The case shows that: (i) emerging visions play an important role in guiding transitions; (ii) agency enables the further diffusion of visions and niches; (iii) vision champions play an important role in transitions, but are not decisive; (iv) each transition has led to an extension of the number of societal functions provided, which has led to more complex water management regimes in which functions are combined and integrated; and (v) external landscape factors are important, as they can lead to awareness and urgency in important decision making processes.
... The work of White (1942) on alternative flood adjustments revolutionised flood management and conceptions of natural hazards (Macdonald, Chester, Sangster, Todd, & Hooke, 2012). Subsequent efforts have expanded the notion of societal factors in dealing with hazard mitigation (Burton & Kates, 1964;Burton, Kates, & White, 1993;White, 1988). ...
Article
Flood risk assessments often overlook benefits of floodplain use and the influence of coping capacity. Herein we present a classic flood risk analysis, but simultaneously evaluate benefits of flood‐prone land use in Candaba, Philippines. By combining simulated flood probabilities with both damage and benefit functions, we estimate agricultural damages and livelihood benefits over flood hazards of varying frequency. We find that concurrent evaluation of both damages and benefits provides more complete information on which flood risk reduction decisions may be based. In Candaba, although ‘risky’ uses of flood‐prone land are associated with rice‐crop damages, livelihood benefits exceed risks by a large margin (US $ 58 million) across the range of investigated flood hazards. Even considering risk, net benefits of direct human floodplain use far exceed benefits provided when direct ‘risky’ human uses are excluded (difference of $ 85‐87 million). We also find that individual coping strategies (adapting crop cycles to the flood pulse or shifting from farming to seasonal fishing) may minimize flood losses while supporting livelihood benefits (net benefit of $ 125 million). Risk‐benefit analysis can support floodplain management by elucidating practices that yield maximum socio‐ecological benefits for the minimum flood risk. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... L es risques dits naturels deviennent un objet de recherche en sciences sociales avec le travail pionnier de Gilbert White sur les inondations dans les années 1930-1940(White, 1945Macdonald, Chester, Sangster et al., 2011). Les approches sociales, politiques et territoriales se consolident par la suite dans le champ académique (Olcina, 2008a ;Wisner, Gaillard et Kelman, 2012 ;Wisner, 2019 ;Rebotier, 2022) et plusieurs défis restent entiers, comme l'articulation aux politiques de prévention (Wisner, 2016 ;Pigeon et Rebotier, 2016) ou à l'adaptation au changement climatique (Kelman, Gaillard et Mercer, 2015). ...
Article
Dans un monde globalisé, les littoraux polarisent une partie de l’activité économique et de la population. Mais ils sont aussi un espace à risque à l’heure du réchauffement climatique. La France et l’Espagne comptent des milliers de kilo- mètres de côte où s’affrontent des intérêts divers (environnementaux, économiques, stratégiques). Pour autant, la mesure de la révolution qu’implique une nécessaire réor- ganisation territoriale du littoral à court, moyen et long terme ne semble pas encore avoir été prise. Un regard croisé porté sur les expériences des deux pays souligne le poids des aspects sociaux et politiques impliqués dans la gestion des espaces et risques côtiers. D’importants obstacles (et opportunités) vers des régions côtières plus durables résident dans les propres disposi- tifs de gestion.
... Thus, focusing community and landscape planning on minimizing the effects of anthropogenic activities on potentially destructive hazards will prove beneficial in the long term and support sustainability. While the contributions of human activities to the escalation of damages from disasters has been discussed for decades (e.g., Alexander, 2000;Macdonald, Chester, Sangster, Todd, & Hooke, 2011;White, 1945;White, Kates, & Burton, 2001), little attention has focused on how anthropogenic stressors affect the spectrum from chronic to episodic hazards or how the more complex cascading hazards evolve. As such, planning and management strategies for natural hazards tend to develop in a piece-meal fashion based on prior experiences (e.g., Kasperson & Pijawka, 1985). ...
Article
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... In the late 1920s and 1930s, many prominent environmental extremes occurred in the USA. The natural hazards besides the great economic depression during this period assumed catastrophic proportions that resulted in social hardships (Macdonald et al. 2012). The philosophical change in the political perspective transformed the approach to disaster reduction. ...
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Numerous disasters over the past several years have revealed the differential impacts due to social structure, economic conditions and level of infrastructure. This study investigates the vulnerability of eastern coastal states of India from potential cyclones. In this regard, a method is proposed for quantifying the socio-economic and infrastructural vulnerability to potential cyclone in the districts of the eastern coastal states. The variables included in the study are extracted from Census of India (2011) at district level administrative unit. In the analysis, a large number of variables are reduced to a smaller number of factors by using factor analysis, specifically principal component analysis that represents the socioeconomic and infrastructural vulnerability to potential cyclone. Subsequently, the factor scores have been mapped for spatial analysis using Jenk’s natural break technique. Utilizing socioeconomic and infrastructural vulnerability indices, the highly vulnerable districts are demonstrated, which are expected to face substantial amount of challenges in coping with cyclones. The highly vulnerable districts require strategies to address the various aspects of socioeconomic and infrastructural vulnerability. The indices and maps produced in this paper could not only be incorporated for multi-level governance but also to integrate it with the real-time weather forecasts to identify the predictive areas of vulnerability.
... Johnson and Priest, 2008). 6 The idea of complex flood management, including land use change and non-structural measures, was expressed by Gilbert White already in 1940s, but the state policies usually preferred more technocratic flood protection approach (see White, 1945;Macdonald et al., 2011). The flood control strategy of the Czech Republic approved by the government in 2000 (Government of the Czech Republic, 2000) called for a mix of technical and natural measures for flood control. ...
Article
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A shift from flood protection to flood risk management is occurring in many Western countries, but less is known about the social perception of floods and flood management changes in Central and Eastern Europe. The objective of this paper is to study the social perception of selected water-related issues and to find possible compatibilities with existing flood management. A sociological survey was conducted within a local population living in floodplains in South Bohemia (N=89). The results are discussed in relation to changes in Czech flood management governmental policies over the last 15 years. We conclude that the local population accepts floods as regular events, expects their increased frequency and prefers natural measures of flood mitigation. Czech flood management governmental policies are moving from flood defence and hard structural measures (e.g. dams) to flood risk management and more natural solutions (polders, free spill, etc.). However, there is still a strong legacy of a top-down approach in governmental policies which hinders full incorporation of local perceptions into flood management.
... Given this suffusion, the challenge for physical geographers is to understand the variability in the Earth system, to differentiate anthropogenic from non-anthropogenic processes, and to assess resources and hazards in the system (e.g. Johnston, 1983;Macdonald et al., 2012); Harden (2012) noted that advance in physical geography also reinvigorates humanenvironment geography. ...
Article
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This editorial is the product of the Progress in Physical Geography lecture at the April 2013 meeting of the Association of American Geographers. The paper was presented by George Malanson, the North American Editor, and the co-authors presented critiques based on a draft. Subsequently, the manuscript was developed and revised based on discussion at the meeting and additional exchange among the co-authors.
... This reactive approach to mitigation is reflected heavily in both Master Plan documents (CPRA, 2007CPRA, , 2012) and helps to explain some of the current difficulty in embracing alternative mitigation strategies in the State of Louisiana (Ackroyd, Kirkpatrick, & Walker, 2007; Exworthy & Halford, 1998; Tummers, 2010). The reluctant adoption of non-structural mitigation strategies is not novel to the state of Louisiana, having been recognized across the western world as early as the 1940s by Gilbert White (Macdonald, Chester, Sangster, Todd, & Hooke, 2011; White, 1945). White spent a significant portion of his career researching how humans could coexist more harmoniously with the environment, with particular attention paid to floods (Mitchell, 2008). ...
Article
Continued population growth and development in exposed areas across Coastal Louisiana has created a new geography of hazards and disasters within the coastal zone. Increasing storm frequencies coupled with sea level rise will undoubtedly intensify the intersection between flood hazards and coastal residents. Accordingly, the baseline (inherent) capacity of places to adequately prepare for and rebound from disaster events will be negatively impacted. This paper summarizes the value of incorporating research-based techniques into a non-structural assessment of flood vulnerability within the Northshore Region of Louisiana. The exploratory nature of the methodology employed in this study was focused on determining the value of non-structural measures of vulnerability in mitigation planning and the role of research in evidence-based decision support for public officials. The outcome of the study highlighted new perspectives for measuring vulnerability within a policy environment, offering community officials a more robust understanding of the dynamic intersection of the physical threats, social vulnerability, and economic components of flood risk. This knowledge is currently being used by decision makers in the region to cultivate enhanced mitigation tactics that have traditionally been structurally focused. By incorporating the biophysical, economic, and social vulnerability into a qualitative "place" vulnerability matrix for the study area, the authors have been able to gain a more robust understanding of the flood risks across the region. By integrating this new understanding of risk into potential mitigation strategies, planning for risk reduction expenditures can more appropriately consider the drivers of place-specific vulnerability.
... Literature review: the levee effect White's (1945) publication has shaped the way flooding is perceived and revolutionized the methods by which risk and hazards are conceptualized more generally (Macdonald, Chester, Sangster, Todd, & Hooke, 2011). Indeed, White's thesis has inspired several studies in which the levee effect was investigated. ...
Article
The levee effect refers to the paradox that the construction of a levee to protect from flooding might induce property owners to invest more in their property, increasing the potential damages should the levee breach. Thus, paradoxically, the levee might increase flood risk. The levee effect was observed for high-income countries. We analyze whether it can also be observed in a low income country, Bangladesh. In the Jamuna floodplain different levels of flood protection have existed alongside each other since the 1960s, so their effects can be compared.
... White, who, like Quarantelli, received his doctorate from University of Chicago, was a geographer who studied hazards in the context of societal adaptations to natural hazards. His doctoral dissertation Human Adjustments to Floods (White, 1945) had a profound impact on the research of natural hazards and revolutionized the way in which hazard and risks are viewed (Montz & Tobin, 2011;Macdonald, Chester, Sangster, Todd, & Hooke, 2012 (Tierney, 2007). The Natural ...
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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in the wake of the September 11th 2001 terrorist events. DHS’s formation, the largest reorganization of a governmental agency in over 50 years, brought a new emphasis on the protection of the nation, its citizens and its infrastructure to government emergency management policy. Previously, the locus of emergency management had lain with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which had strongly emphasized natural disaster response. The rise of FEMA and DHS were only the latest iterations in a long history of policy shifts in this space driven by the perceived threats and prevailing political dynamics of the day. Arguably, the complex and intertwined nature of contemporary hazards calls for a dual emphasis in the homeland security and emergency management (HSEM) enterprise; that is, awareness and capabilities that span both fields. As applied disciplines, scholarship in homeland security and emergency management has always had strong links to the evolving practice of the HSEM enterprise. In addition to providing research to guide practice, baccalaureate programs in both homeland security and emergency management have emerged to address the operational and educational capabilities required by practitioners. In the post-9/11 environment, the increasingly complex demands placed upon our homeland security and emergency management enterprise require a better-integrated education. This study serves to demonstrate consensus regarding the significance of an integrated curricula in homeland security and emergency management meeting the needs of the workforce.
... This failure led to the second legacy, moral hazard behaviour encouraged by the dams and levees, also referred to as the 'levee effect' (Di Baldassarre et al., 2018). The problem was first recognized by the great American geographer Gilbert White, who argued that levees and dams opened up floodplains to more intensive development, and thus when floods came, damage would be increased; this insight has shaped thinking about flood control in the US and elsewhere (Macdonald, Chester, Sangster, Todd, & Hooke, 2011). ...
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Post-flood policies and compensation regimes tend to focus on the resilience of public spaces and improving the adaptive capacity of future private property developments. This article focuses on the instruments associated with the resilience of existing privately owned residential buildings from the perspective of post-flood policies and compensation regimes. By reviewing the relevant legal and policy landscapes it aims to provide mutual lessons learned between the EU, its member states and the US and to set forth generally applicable recommendations for improving post-flood policies for existing buildings.
... White is famous as 'the founding father of floodplain management' because of his cognition and contribution to flood management [33]. Since he was given the responsibility to increase the floodplain [12]. ...
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A disaster is an event or series of events which threaten and disrupt the human lives. The studies of disaster are constantly considered related to humans because humans act as the causative factor, victim and at the same time the executant of the effort in disaster handling. Pioneered by Gilbert White and pursued by other experts, human geography later shows the roles in examining issues in disaster studies especially in disaster mitigation. Based on several research and notions, many experts in human geography agree that there is nothing natural in natural disaster. Although the disasters are often affected by geosphere physical phenomenon but various human actions and activities on the face of the earth cause certain population to be more prone to natural disaster. If the risks toward disaster need to be reduced, bigger attention needs to be given to minimize population vulnerability, increase people capacity to overcome disaster and strengthen people capability to adapt to disaster area in a long term. Currently, UN as the responsible party in reducing risk of international disaster has been doing community resilience effort adopting Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005–2015: building the nation and community resilience towards disaster, followed by Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDR) 2015-2030: reducing disaster risk and loss.
... In an influential work, White argued that 'floods are largely acts of man' and adjustments were a range of structural and non-structural measures which could reduce flood losses. Subsequently hazard mitigation became virtually synonymous with this idea, although surprisingly its adoption is comparatively recent in the UK and European Union (Macdonald, Chester, Sangster, Todd, & Hooke, 2011). ...
Article
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The concept of resilience has become prominent and now dominates thinking about risk management, notably including environmental hazard management. This paper examines the diverse origins of resilience and its conceptual roots within the hazard and disaster management field and then questions whether or not resilience is simply a re-branding of the concept of mitigation which has previously been widely employed in the hazard and disaster management field. The discussion leads to the conclusion that resilience is not a simple re-branding but is a concept that goes well beyond mitigation to embrace adaptation, change and transformation. Whether disaster resilience is a mature science is discussed next, providing evidence that it is not yet mature because there is currently no settled definitional, conceptual or theoretical basis for the science which is widely recognised and adhered to. Finally, the significant challenges that disaster science has in becoming a more mature and readily applicable science are discussed before the six papers in this Special Issue are introduced.
... archaeology | irrigation agriculture | ENSO | pollen | floodwater farming N atural disasters, and in particular, flood events, are predicted to intensify as the planet continues to warm. Much of today's disaster management strategies draw on a theoretical perspective that located the origin of catastrophes in nature, and views them as external to society (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7). Consequently, policy and research efforts are largely directed at improving predictive models and detection methods (2,5,8,9). ...
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Significance Disaster management policies are aimed at system resistance: Maintaining or quickly returning to operations established during normal periods. The Peruvian approach to El Niño follows this model, but the cost of reconstruction rises with each event. Meanwhile, archaeological evidence demonstrates that El Niño events were successfully managed by prehispanic farmers, who developed resilient hybrid canal systems that utilized both river water and floodwater for agricultural production. Ancient farmers treated the El Niño phenomenon as part of the norm, and likewise accounted for floodwaters in their irrigation technology. This study calls for a conceptual shift as effective disaster management policy is developed in the context of the global climate crisis.
... To illustrate those links, we present policies dedicated to what the French State named dike risk. The issue of dike risk was identified many decades ago by American engineers and by Gilbert White (Macdonald et al, 2012). They found that dikes, as other protective and corrective works, tend to procure a delusive sense of security. ...
... Gilbert White stated in his 1942 Ph.D. dissertation from the University of Chicago that "floods are an act of God but flood damage is an act of Man" (Macdonald et al., 2012). Floods occur when water overflows submerge land that is normally dry. ...
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Successful climate adaptation needs to sustain food, water, and energy security in the face of elevated carbon emissions. Hydroeconomic analysis (HEA) offers considerable potential to inform climate adaptation plans where water is an important element of economic activity. This paper's contribution is to identify how HEA can inform climate adaptation plans by minimizing economic costs of responding to climate induced changes in water supplies. It describes what HEA is, why it is important, how researchers implement it, who has made significant contributions, and places where it has informed policy debates. It also describes future directions for the use of HEA to guide climate adaptation.
... Thus, it is vital to further improved our understanding of flood risk on the European continent by developing more accurate and reliable modelling approaches and transparently communicate uncertainties to better inform climate adaptation and flood risk management. Many fundamental insights into human-flood interactions and the risk they pose to the lives and properties of people in affected areas were already conceptualized in White (1936White ( , 1945 and still influence flood hazard and risk research today (Macdonald et al., 2012). White's notion of human adjustment to floods is now more relevant than ever in our efforts to adapt not only to floods, but to all climate related risks. ...
Thesis
Hochwasser stellt ein großes Risiko für Wohngebäude in Europa dar, und es wird erwartet, dass das Risiko in der Zukunft aufgrund klimatischer und sozioökonomischer Veränderungen zunehmen wird. Aktuelle Hochwasserrisikomodelle basieren meist auf einfachen Wasserstands-Schadenskurven. Diese Ansätze vereinfachen die Hochwasserschadensprozesse stark, können ungenau sein und bergen große Unsicherheiten, die oft nicht quantifiziert. Die Doktorarbeit stellt die Integration neuer Daten in probabilistische, multivariable Schadensmodelle zur Verbesserung ihrer Übertragbarkeit vor. Diese neuen Datenquellen und Modellierungsansätze werden verwendet, um zukünftige Veränderung des Hochwasserrisikos für Wohngebäude in Europa abzuschätzen und Risikokomponenten zu analysieren. Die Arbeit zeigt, OpenStreetMap (OSM) Daten liefern nützliche Informationen für die Modellierung von Hochwasserschäden und ermöglichen Modelltransfers. Die Integration von aus OSM abgeleiteten Gebäudeeigenschaften und Hochwassererfahrung aus Ereignisdatenbanken in das Bayes’sche Netzwerk basierte Hochwasserschadensmodelle für den privaten Sektor (BN-FLEMOps) ermöglichte die Implementierung auf der Mesoskala. Durch Vergleiche von Schadensschätzungen mit beobachteten Schäden in mehreren Fallstudien in Europa wurde das Modell validiert und detailliert mit einem Ensemble aus 20 Schadensmodellen verglichen. In einer abschließenden Studie werden die zukünftigen Veränderungen des Risikos für Wohngebäude in Europa modelliert. Die erwarteten jährlichen Schäden bis zum Ende des 21. Jahrhunderts werden um das 10-fache ansteigen. Die Britischen Inseln und der größte Teil von Zentral-Europa müssen mit einer starken Risikozunahme rechnen. Teile Skandinaviens und des Mittelmeerraums werden dagegen ein stagnierendes oder abnehmendes Hochwasserrisiko verzeichnen. Eine Verbesserung der privaten Vorsorgemaßnahmen könnte das Hochwasserrisiko im Mittel um 15 % und in einigen europäischen Regionen um bis zu 20 % verringern.
... The Chairman of MMBW travelled to United States in early 1976 to seek the advice of a prominent environmental geographer and floodplain management expert, Gilbert F. White, upon realising the gravity of the public discontent and criticism against MMBW in relation to repeated flood problems. White was critical of the reliance upon old hydraulic routine to reduce floods (Macdonald et al., 2012) and advocated for combining engineering and non-engineering measures (White, 1997). White referred the MMBW Chairman to two American consultants (an environmental geographer and an engineer) who self-described themselves as "disciples" of Gilbert F. White (K. ...
Article
The decline side of transitions is an emerging study, which advances thinking on regime destabilisation, technology decline and phase-out policies. Previous research has predominantly focused on the complete phase out of specific unsustainable technologies as desirable or possible, but it has given less attention to how these technological aspects interweave with institutional elements in ways that may constrain or enable system transformations. Our research develops a framework that clarifies the nuanced relationships between technological decline and the dissipation of institutional elements as distinct but interrelated processes. Through a longitudinal case study, we used the framework to examine the decline of unsustainable drainage technologies in Melbourne, Australia. These technologies are embedded within existing institutional elements, i.e. routines, rules, roles, and meanings that govern how stormwater should be managed. The near-full decline of one type of the drainage technologies is enabled by mixing old and new institutional elements. We found that the dissipation of multiple elements using combined mechanisms is important to achieve this partial decline outcome, and more attention needs to be paid to the effects of institutional remnants in constraining systems transformations.
... The Chairman of MMBW travelled to United States in early 1976 to seek the advice of a prominent environmental geographer and floodplain management expert, Gilbert F. White, upon realising the gravity of the public discontent and criticism against MMBW in relation to repeated flood problems. White was critical of the reliance upon old hydraulic routine to reduce floods (Macdonald et al., 2012) and advocated for combining engineering and non-engineering measures (White, 1997). White referred the MMBW Chairman to two American consultants (an environmental geographer and an engineer) who self-described themselves as "disciples" of Gilbert F. White (K. ...
Article
The arid desert coast of northern Peru has traditionally been viewed either as existing in stasis, or as experiencing punctuated change from sudden flood events, followed by a return to system equilibrium. Despite these environmental extremes, the region was home to agriculture-based societies for millennia, and the success of these farming systems is considered an early example of irrigation technology transforming marginal landscapes. However, a closer examination of the long-term human-environment history of the Chicama Valley, one of the largest valleys in the coastal region, demonstrates that this landscape is the product of protracted interactions across at least three systems: the local environment, El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and farming. Here, El Niño floods, typically considered high-risk events, are fundamental to local biodiversity and renewal, resulting in a desert ecosystem that is both robust and elastic. The prehispanic farmland known as the Pampa de Mocan (1100BC–AD1460), is presented as a case study to observe the co-evolution of agricultural technology and an ENSO-hyper-arid environment. This ancient farming system developed the capacity to toggle between sudden floodwater inputs and periods of water scarcity. Alongside water and soil conservation practices, prehispanic agriculturalists implemented technologies that were designed to mitigate El Niño flooding and incorporate its byproducts to supplement available resources. The convergence of these interacting systems on the Pampa de Mocan offers new insights into the role of risk in building resilience.
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Jakarta has entered an era of chronic flooding that is annually affecting tens of thousands of people, most of whom are crowded into low-income neighbourhoods in flood-prone areas of the city. As the greater Jakarta mega-urban region—Jabodetabek—approaches the 30 million population mark and the sources of flooding become ever more complex through combinations of global climate change and human transformations of the urban landscape, government responses to flooding pursued primarily through canal improvements fall further behind rising flood risks. Years of field observation and archival and ethnographic research are brought together in a political ecology framework to answer key questions concerning how government responses to flooding continue without significant participation of affected residents, who are being compelled to relocate when floods occur. How do urban development processes in Jakarta contribute to chronic flooding? How does flooding arise from and further generate compound disasters that cascade through Jakarta's expanding mega-urban region? What is the potential for neighbourhoods and communities to collaboratively respond through socially and environmentally meaningful initiatives and activities to address chronic flooding? Floods, urban land use changes, spatial marginalization, and community mobilization open new political dynamics and possibilities for addressing floods in ways that also assist neighbourhoods in gaining resilience. The urgency of floods as problems to be solved is often interpreted as a need for immediate solutions related only to flood management, but community resilience is more crucially attained in non-emergency times by expanding rights to dwell in this city, build houses, and create vernacular communities, livelihoods, and social support networks.
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This review essay considers the development of the field of disaster studies and specifically, examines the myriad ways in which the role of the human has shifted during this development. The essay focuses on four major periods of development within disaster studies, including: the hazard-risk paradigm, the bounded rationality paradigm, the concept of social vulnerability and critiques of social vulnerability.
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Reconstruction of urban cities necessarily involves politics. This chapter evaluates how various disaster recovery actors across different sectors negotiate disaster politics.
Article
Historical data sources are used by a wide variety of disciplines, but rarely do they look outside their particular research fields at how others are using and applying historical data. The use and application of historical data has grown rapidly over the last couple of decades within the meteorological, geophysical and hydrological disciplines, but have done so relatively independently. By coevolving, each discipline has developed separate themes or areas, with varying degrees of uptake beyond their academic communities. We find that whilst the geophysical discipline has been relatively successful in engaging with international policymakers and stakeholders, this has not been reflected within the meteorological or hydrological disciplines to date. This disparity has occurred for a variety of reasons, including varying scales of disaster and social, political and cultural structures. In examining current developments within the disciplines, evidence suggests that this disparity is lessening, as each are using online databases and some citizen science, but that they continue to evolve independently with little unifying structure or purpose. This continued autonomy makes multi-hazard analysis challenging which, considering the potential that historical datasets present in the emerging field of multi-hazards analysis, is a considerable hindrance to this field of research. In looking forward, opportunities emerge for improved understanding of the risks presented to societies by natural hazards in the past, but also for examining how resilience, behaviour and adaptation alter during periods of repose.
Article
This paper asserts that both Christian and Islamic traditions of faith affect the ways in which people both try to make sense of, and respond to, disasters. This contention is supported by the results of empirical research, which demonstrates that differing Islamic and Christian perspectives on human suffering caused by disasters are neither as diverse, nor are they so intractable, as is commonly supposed. Today pastoral convergence between the two traditions may also be discerned, together with a general acceptance of the policies of both State agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) which are concerned with hazard relief and the propagation of policies of disaster risk reduction (DRR). Indeed some important disaster relief NGOs have emerged from Islamic and Christian faith communities and are supported by charitable donations.
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This chapter focuses on the shift from a “safety” to a “spatial” approach in US flood governance, which took place over the course of the 20th century. It reconstructs the policymaking process underlyig to shift to analyze role and impacts of expert-influence on the distributive decision-making process. Three conclusions are drawn. First, that expert-influence should be understood as the product of the self-organization of expert-groups and political-contextual factors that set boundaries around what expertise was considered relevant in US flood governance. Second, while experts greatly influenced the development of spatial measures in the US, their involvement did not reduce political attention for the distributive implications of spatial policies. On the contrary, they contributed to a better understanding of these distributive implications by specifying the costs involved with spatial measures for different groups in society. Third, with the institutionalization of spatial measures in US flood governance, room was given to a new type of “administrative” experts, who placed emphasis on the operational effectiveness of the US spatial approach to floods. Because of this, past distributive choices were not reconsidered in the light of external developments in the policy field such as climate change.
Article
We argue that Geography should be centre stage for understanding today's climate emergency. It warrants this position because as a field of study it uniquely straddles physical/environmental and human/social scholarships. In the wider academic world, bringing together scholars across this “cultural” divide has traditionally been difficult, and continues to be so in current responses to human‐induced climate change. Specifically, physical scholarship and science dominate at the expense of social scholarship and science. But it is now widely recognised we are living in a time of climate emergency and this simply will not do. Geography as a field of study that bridges these two forms of knowledge has the potential to become strategically relevant in this situation. The concept of risk that links environment and people from the Natural Hazards paradigm is identified as a way in which a holistic Geography can take an important lead in worldwide scholarly inputs into anthropogenic climate change understanding and consequent policy development. Geography as a field of study can provide a bridging link between physical science and social science contributions to understanding anthropogenic climate change. The paper discusses how and why this might come about.
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Concepts and vocabularies used to represent objects and processes are socially constructed by human beings and vary from one society (or culture) to another. “Scientific” accounts of disasters are produced by observers with differing degrees of educational training, research experience, perceptual capacities and ideational frameworks. Understanding how these varying cognitive elements interact to discursively shape that which we come to take as knowledge is the goal of post-positivism and transdisciplinarity is a strong invocation that moves in that direction and beyond. This chapter reviews the diversity of definitions of disaster, the way they are classified and traces the epistemological history of the definitions that shape the emerging discipline of disaster studies. It discusses the blurred boundaries between disaster studies as an emerging discipline and the practice of disaster management. Reflecting on disaster management as a profession, it critiques managerialism and its consequences. The final section engages critically with the notion of humanitarianism, closely linked with the idea of disaster management. Although conventionally regarded as a noble enterprise, humanitarianism is not unproblematic and is in fact, riddled with dilemmas and challenges.
Article
Delta regions have always been prone to flooding disasters. To provide protection, welfare state governments have built floodwalls and levees to keep people safe. However, the feasibility of this approach is now being questioned. Can these infrastructural measures accommodate changing floods risks? In many delta countries, governments are embracing “flood risk management” (FRM) as an alternative approach. In FRM, the focus lies on reducing human vulnerabilities to flood risks instead of preventing floods to occur. Based on a case study of the development of FRM in the United States – the country where the approach originated – this paper demonstrates that FRM relies on a value system with underlying divisions of responsibilities, costs and information requirements that significantly differs from traditional welfare state approaches to flood governance. It argues that these systemic features need to be taken into account in the transfer of FRM to welfare state contexts.
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Until the mid-twentieth century, the story of modern flood control was the transition from adaptation to the inevitable to an expectation that government would provide maximum flood prevention and generous post-disaster relief for floodplain dwellers. For the last sixty years or so, the story has been the growing recognition, especially as the understanding of climate change has increased, that the goal of maximum protection is unobtainable because flood damage is an inevitable risk that can only be managed, but never totally avoided. Thus, we are now making the transition to the idea that we must manage floodplains through a combination of structural defenses, upstream storage, and land-use controls.
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The flood that occurred in summer 1997 in Poland, affecting the drainage basins of the Odra and the Vistula, caused 54 fatalities and material losses of the order of billions of US$. The flood struck a large part of the country and caused inundation of 665 000 ha of land. The number of evacuees was 162 thousand. The rhetoric commonly used in Poland refers to the Great Flood of 1997 as an event whose scale exceeded all imagination about the possible size of the disaster. Indeed, historic maxima of river stage and flow rate were considerably exceeded. From the hydrological point of view, this flood was a very rare event, with a return period in some river cross-sections of the order of a thousand years and more. As this natural disaster, striking a dynamically developing country-in-transition, attracted much international interest, a holistic view of it is presented. Attempts to answer the questions: “Could the disaster have been avoided?” and “What lessons can be learnt from the flood?” are also made.
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Record-breaking rainfall amounts and intens-ities were observed at several raingauges in cen-tral Europe during the first half of August 2002 (Fig. 1). They produced flash floods in small rivers in the Erz Mountains, the Bohemian Forest and in Lower Austria (see Fig. 2), fol-lowed by record-breaking floods of larger rivers fed from these areas. The Vltava submerged parts of the city of Prague on 13± 15 August, and subsequently the Elbe flooded parts of Dresden and further villages and towns located downstream. The gauge level of 9.40 m mea-sured at Dresden on 17 August 2002 is the highest level since 1275, exceeding the former maximum level of 8.77 m recorded in 1845 (Grollmann and Simon 2002). Parts of the Danube catchment were also affected by severe flooding. There were 100 fatalities connected with the floods in central Europe, and the eco-nomic loss is estimated at 9 billion Euros for Germany (German government's estimate), 3 billion Euros for Austria, and 2.5 billion Euros for the Czech Republic (estimates from Boyle 2002). The event thus replaced the European winter storm Lothar of December 1999 (Ulbrich et al. 2001) as the most expensive weather-related catastrophe in Europe in recent decades (see Cornford 2002). In this study, we give an overview of the exceptional rainfall experienced over wide areas on 12/13 August 2002, and the resulting floods. Further events during early August 2002, in particular the event on 6/7 August in Lower Austria, are briefly mentioned. We will initially focus on the river catchments located on the northern slopes of the Erz Mountains south of Dresden which were parti-cularly hit by flash floods on 12/13 August. The narrow flood plains of the Rivers Mu È glitz, Weiû eritz and Mulde (Fig. 2) are located in a mainly forested area, with gneiss and mica slate bedrock beneath the surface layer. The village of Weesenstein on the banks of the small River Mu È glitz was particularly hit by a flash flood. At the Dohna gauging station, located just 2 km downstream of Weesenstein, water levels rose by 1 m between 0930 and 1030 LT (local time ± Central European Summer Time, which is GMT + 2 hours) on 12 August 2002, and con-tinued to climb at a rate of about 0.5 m h ± 1 until the telemetry transmissions failed after 1545 LT at a level of 3.57 m. According to press reports (Smoltczyk 2002) the Mu È glitz contin-ued to rise throughout the afternoon (typical levels during previous days were about 0.2 m). Runoff was enhanced when the dam of an upstream flood-retention reservoir broke at about 1800 LT. The flood remained at record levels for about 10 hours throughout the night, destroying a quarter of the 40 houses of the vil-lage of Weesenstein. More than 24 hours later, at about 1600 LT on 14 August 2002, the waters of the River Mu È glitz were still running through its former main street (Fig. 3, p. 391). The severity of the flash flood of the Mu È glitz can be understood by examining 10-minute rainfall records for the synoptic station of Zinnwald-Georgenfeld (altitude 882 m above sea-level (a.s.l.)), which is located in the head-waters near to the catchment divide. Intense precipitation was first measured after 0400 LT (Fig. 4), followed by a sequence of intense rainfall peaks of more than 9 mm within 10 371
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Gilbert White’s extraordinary life, as befits an outstanding geographer of the twentieth century, can be appreciated in both spatial and environmental terms. His major preoccupation with the relationship of humankind and nature first took shape in the localities of his early years at his parent’s home in Hyde Park (Chicago), and at his father’s part-owned 6,000-acre Quarter-Circle-Bell Ranch along the Tongue River near Dayton, Wyoming. In both places Gilbert experienced the strains and stimulation of growing up in a diverse community—the sometimestensemixtureofracial,eth
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Abstract Gilbert White has had a profound influence on natural resources and hazards research, but the philosophy that guides his work has not been clearly defined. White's approach has broad affinities with the pragmatic tradition of American social thought, most notably with the work of john Dewey. This paper compares four major themes in the work of White and Dewey: the precariousness of existence, the pragmatic conception of inquiry, learning from experience, and discourse and democracy. For each theme, I show how similarities and differences between White and Dewey can help to clarify controversies within geography, and directions for future research.
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Meeting fundamental human needs while preserving Earth's life support systems will require an accelerated transition toward sustainability. A new field of sustainability science is emerging that seeks to understand the fundamental character of interactions between nature and society and to encourage those interactions along more sustainable trajectories. Such an integrated, place-based science will require new research strategies and institutional innovations to enable them especially in developing countries still separated by deepening divides from mainstream science. Sustainability science needs to be widely discussed in the scientific community, reconnected to the political agenda for sustainable development, and become a major focus for research.
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Volcanoes and the Environment is a comprehensive and accessible text incorporating contributions from some of the world's authorities in volcanology. This book is an indispensable guide for those interested in how volcanism affects our planet's environment. It spans a wide variety of topics from geology to climatology and ecology; it also considers the economic and social impacts of volcanic activity on humans. Topics covered include how volcanoes shape the environment, their effect on the geological cycle, atmosphere and climate, impacts on health of living on active volcanoes, volcanism and early life, effects of eruptions on plant and animal life, large eruptions and mass extinctions, and the impact of volcanic disasters on the economy. This book is intended for students and researchers interested in environmental change from the fields of earth and environmental science, geography, ecology and social science. It will also interest policy makers and professionals working on natural hazards.
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The absorbent city: urban form and fl ood risk management I. White PhD, MTPl, MRTPI Cities have always been built in hostile and harsh environments. Technological advances have helped increase the safety and security of their inhabitants and, to a large extent, have divorced the urban area from local environmental constraints. However, the dominance of economic issues in the development of urban form has created a legacy of exposure and vulnerability to fl ood risk, and a growing recognition of the limitations of this methodology has led to a desire to manage fl ooding in a way more in harmony with nature. This paper contends that, with regard to fl ood risk management, there has been a transition from self-protection to engineered defence to the current ideology of natural management, which provides a driver for consideration of the nature of an idealised urban form that is more resilient to fl ood risk, designed to absorb water and minimise damage. The paper identifi es refl exivity, knowledge and adaptation as the three underlying principles of a theoretical 'absorbent city' and aims to stimulate debate by describing the potential urban form of a fl ood-resilient urban area, according to geographical and climatic constraints. Adaptive measures needed to help increase resilience are also discussed.
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Rainfall totals with this event exceeded long-term records by some 25%, which is a significant margin when those records have stood for over 100 years. Issued forecast guidance that utilised climatological tools alongside Global numerical weather prediction models over the preceding couple of days suggested totals close to previous record rainfall totals, and in light of this the event was reasonably well forecast, although the coarser models on their own did not capture rainfall as well, partly due to present resolution restrictions. However, the finerresolution models with a shorter lead-time were forecasting totals close to previous record values, although not the extreme values recorded.
Article
1.In certain lower mountainous regions of Germany multiple-channel streams constitute the reference condition for stream restoration and conservation efforts. An increasing number of restoration projects re-establish such stream sections, but their impact on macroinvertebrate communities remains vague and needs further elaboration.2.Seven pairs of single- and multiple-channel sections of mountain rivers were compared in terms of hydromorphology and macroinvertebrate communities. The stream sections were characterized by 16 hydromorphological metrics at various scales, e.g. shore length, channel feature or substrate diversity, flow variability and substrate coverage. Macroinvertebrate data were obtained from 140 substrate-specific samples, which were combined to form representative communities for each section. Community data were subject to similarity and cluster analyses. Thirty-five metrics were calculated with the taxa lists, including number of taxa, abundance, feeding type, habitat and current preferences.3.Bray–Curtis similarity was very high (69–77%) between communities of single- and multiple-channel sections. Biological metrics were correlated with hydromorphological parameters. Mean Spearman rank r was 0.59 (absolute values). The biological metrics percentage of the community preferring submerged vegetation, being grazers and scrapers or active filter feeders, percentage of epipotamal preference and the percentage of current preference (rheo- to limnophil and rheobiont) were significantly correlated with hydromorphological parameters.4.Differences between stream sections can be attributed to single taxa occurring only in either the single- or multiple-channel sections. These exclusive taxa were mainly found on organic substrates such as living parts of terrestrial plants, large wood, coarse particulate organic matter (CPOM) and mud. Reasons for high similarity of macroinvertebrate communities from single- or multiple-channel sections are discussed, including the influence of large-scale catchment pressures, length of restored sections and lack of potential re-colonizers. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
The existing paradigm of UK flood risk management that privileges structural solutions over non-structural ones is evolving in response to threats posed by climate change and higher environmental standards required by the EC Water Framework Directive. This paper examines the contrasting reactions of DEFRA and the Scottish Executive. The Scottish ‘experiment’, which embraces a strong definition of sustainability, is contrasted with a weaker version emerging in England and Wales. Divergent levels of risk and histories of managing that risk explain many of these contrasts. Scotland's more radical approach has the potential to become a new paradigm.
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Dimensions of the ProblemAn Alternative Description of the ProblemObstacles to ImprovementThe Underlying OrientationIs a 25-Year Goal Practicable?AcknowledgementsDiscussionReferences
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Particularly within Christianity and Judaism, theodicy is defined as any attempt to reconcile notions of a loving and just God with the reality of human suffering. The paper begins with a review of the ways in which the Hebrew and Christian scriptures (i.e. the Old and New Testaments) have interpreted disasters, particularly those caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Theological analysis of disasters did not end at the close of the biblical era, but has continued throughout Christian history and a number of so called Leibnizian philosophical models of theodicy have been developed. These are critically introduced. In the past few decades there has been a sea-change in both Christian attitudes towards disasters and in the ways in which losses are viewed by hazard researchers. From the perspective of the latter, an approach that envisions disasters as being primarily caused by extreme physical events has been largely replaced by one in which disasters are studied as social constructs, with a greater emphasis being placed on human vulnerability. Academic scholarship on the Leibnizian philosophical models continues, but greater prominence is now given to viewing disasters as events that represent human sinfulness which is manifested in national and international disparities in wealth, poverty, hazard preparedness and disaster losses. Finally, it is proposed that these new hazard analytical and theological perspectives are synergetic: allowing on the one hand churches, their members as well as their leaders, more fully to engage in disaster relief; whilst, on the other, enabling civil defence planners more effectively to use the often considerable human and financial resources of Christian communities and their charitable agencies.
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Burton I, Kates RW, and White GF (1993) The Environment as Hazard, second edition. London: Guilford Press, 290 pp.