Work Package 3

The overall goals of the FWG are to integrate and analyze existing paleoflood data at the regional and global scales and to promote and disseminate paleoflood science and data at different levels. To reach these overall goals, FWG has been structured in three Work Packages (WP).

Communicating and disseminating paleoflood science and data

Coordinators: Victor Baker, Gerardo Benito, Juan Ballesteros and Tina Swierczynski

Paleoflood hydrology has advanced considerably over the last 40 years to become a highly relevant scientific sub-discipline that is especially effective for the documentation of low-frequency, largemagnitude flood events. The use of paleoflood data as a source of information on the discharges associated with long-return-period flooding can provide substantial socio-economic benefits. Nevertheless, there remains reluctance in the applied sector to make the most effective use of paleoflood data.

This reluctance derives from real or perceived sources of error and uncertainty, including the determination of flood ages, the calculation of flood magnitudes, the non-conventional nature of flood-frequency analysis (FFA), and perceived effects of climate change and nonstationarity. The same sources of error and uncertainty characterize conventional hydrology, and these apply in both lesser and greater degrees. For example, conventional stream gauges commonly fail (generating no information) during the same kinds of extreme flood events that leave the bestpreserved, long-term geological evidence of their magnitudes.

In practice, real-world information on rare, extreme flooding is always preferable to the total lack of information on such phenomena, if only to correct the likely misrepresentation of such events by assumption-based extrapolation from instrumental records that are inadequate to the task.

Challenges

The challenge is to communicate the advantages of using long-term paleoflood data for effective flood hazard analysis, while clarifying appropriate methods for dealing with any associated errors and uncertainties. It is important to communicate the used methods and facts provided by paleoflood analysis, and to make these clear to conventional hydrologists, flood engineers, decision makers, and all the relevant social actors concerned with risk from flooding.

Objectives

The objectives of the WP are to plan how to:

i) disseminate information on new paleoflood methods and flood data archives, making these available to other scientists and professionals working on flood risk assessment;

ii) communicate findings at the highest levels of national and international policy-makers and;

iii) raise public awareness of paleoflood science, especially in regard to its role in achieving improved understanding of flood risk.

Actions

i) Who are the stakeholders?
a) Identification/Mapping of stakeholder groups who are interested in results from paleoflood science (interviewing?)
b) Indentifying why stakeholder groups are interested in paleoflood data and which data/information is needed from scientists?

ii) What to communicate/disseminate to stakeholders?
a) Collecting information about cross-community projects and defining appropriate terminology/concepts to communicate palaeoflood results: communication of parameters and concepts that can be understood by stakeholders and the public (e.g. flood magnitude/frequency: low, medium, and high frequency, probable maximum flood)
b) Defining specific topics for communication to stakeholders and the public (e.g. quantification of extreme flooding for the design of high-risk entities (dams, power plants, and other critical infrastructure), understanding the potential response of flooding to climate change for planning and adaptation, direct communication of information on real floods to engage politicians, decision-makers, and the at-risk public with the motivation to deal with possible flood impacts, as opposed to confusing the same parities with a probabilistic terminology that is only understood by technical experts …)

iii) How to communicate/disseminate to stakeholders and the public (e.g. flood risk communication)?
a) Developing a communication strategy for science and stakeholders (involve social scientists)
b) Investigating the interest in certain formats and tools (e.g. forums, specific meetings, workshops, science briefs for stakeholders).

Expected deliverables

i) Regular short communications about paleoflood data or examples from projects addressing different audiences (scientists, engineers, stakeholders, etc.) by showing key 'lessons learnt' and highlighting the economical ‘add value’ of considering nonsystematic records;

ii) Talks and presentations addressing the general public and stakeholders (list on webpage);

iii) Workshop (in cooperation with social scientists): Communicating results of (paleo-) flood science;

iv) Communication strategy based on workshop results, lesson learnt and publications.