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Tools for a better response to droughts and floods

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Droughts and floods cause increasing damage around the world, often with devastating short- and long-term effects on human society. Predicting when they will occur, monitoring them as they develop and learning from the past to improve disaster management is vital. Droughts and floods can be measured, monitored and modeled in a variety of ways, whether they are historical patterns, current events, or predictions of future trends. A new book in the series of geophysical monographs, Global drought and floods: observation, modeling and prediction, presents recent advances in modeling and remote sensing of droughts and floods. We asked the authors how droughts and floods are observed and recorded, and how this information is used.

Why did you decide to write a book on measuring, monitoring and modeling droughts and floods?

This book is a collection of models and tools based on numerical simulation and / or remote sensing. Contributors to this volume have been very active in publishing their research findings and products through peer-reviewed articles and various presentations at conferences and workshops, such as AGU, EGU, and AMS. Seeing so many high-quality sessions on global drought and flood related research and applications gave us the idea to formulate a collection of the most recent versions of these studies directly from modelers and product producers of remote sensing.

What are the benefits and challenges of remote sensing and modeling for understanding drought and flooding, and how could they be further improved?

The most common advantage of the models and tools presented in this collection is that they have been the core or part of online platforms (e.g. GFMS, GloFAS and SMOPS), regularly providing products and services of routine in case of drought or flood.

Although each product has its own characteristics and advantages, challenges also exist in current models, methods and products.

The most difficult problem remains the uncertainty in model predictions and remote sensing recoveries which adds difficulty of use for various users, although improvements have been made over the years as described in various chapters of our book. Further improvements can be expected using more powerful observation and computational capabilities, as well as emerging artificial intelligence methods to improve physical and statistical approaches.

How is information on drought and floods used by humanitarian, government and development actors?

Global drought and flood information is invaluable to many international and national humanitarian, government and development sectors, such as the United Nations World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management and the Federal Government. United States Emergency Management Agency.

Decision makers in these organizations need to pre-allocate and prioritize mitigation resources for multiple concurrent severe events occurring in different regions and locations.

There is potential for optimizing synergies within and between organizations for disaster mitigation in affected areas, building on the information made available by the models and systems presented in our book.

How could this information be better communicated between the scientists collecting the data and the actors making political decisions?

Communication between scientists collecting data and actors making policy decisions has improved dramatically in recent years, as both parties are willing to talk to and help each other. Better communication and understanding can be further improved by encouraging and promoting interactions between producers and users, in particular by enabling two-way information exchange; for example, scientists need to receive constructive feedback from stakeholders on the ease of use of their products, both their successes and their failures.

Where is more effort needed to make better use of information on droughts and floods?

The most important value of the models and data presented in our book is hazard risk assessment, which requires not only information on floods and droughts, but also information on associated damage and loss.

Historical data on extreme events is sorely lacking almost everywhere in terms of hazard risk assessment anywhere in the world.

A long-term detailed (high spatio-temporal resolution) database of global droughts and floods including frequency, intensity, duration, causation and damage / loss is urgently needed to develop improved responses.

Global drought and floods: observation, modeling, and prediction, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-119-42721-6, list price $ 169.95 (print), $ 136 (e-book). AGU members receive 35% off all books at Wiley.com. Log in to your AGU member profile to access the discount code.

—Huan Wu ([email protected], ORCIDE logo 0000-0003-2920-8860), Sun Yat-sen University, China; Dennis P. Lettenmaier (ORCIDE logo 0000-0003-3317-1327) University of California, Los Angeles, USA; Qiuhong Tang (ORCIDE logo 0000-0002-0886-6699), Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; and Philip J. Ward (ORCIDE logo 0000-0001-7702-7859), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands


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