Integrating human behaviour dynamics into flood disaster risk assessment


The behaviour of individuals, businesses, and government entities before, during, and immediately after a disaster can dramatically affect the impact and recovery time. However, existing risk-assessment methods rarely include this critical factor. In this Perspective, we show why this is a concern, and demonstrate that although initial efforts have inevitably represented human behaviour in limited terms, innovations in flood-risk assessment that integrate societal behaviour and behavioural adaptation dynamics into such quantifications may lead to more accurate characterization of risks and improved assessment of the effectiveness of risk-management strategies and investments. Such multidisciplinary approaches can inform flood-risk management policy development.

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Fig. 1: Extended risk assessment framework including behavioural factors and disaster risk reduction.
Fig. 2: Trends in flood risk influenced by events and human behaviour.


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Many thanks to K. Clarke, S. Sweeney, D. Lopez-Carr, C. Funk and the Climate Hazard Group for their support (Department of Geography and Broome Center for Demography, University of California, Santa Barbara. The research was financially supported by NWO Vici grant no. 453-13-006, NWO Vidi grant no. 452.14.005; EU H2020 grant agreement no. 730482; and the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy.

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All authors contributed ideas and edited the manuscript. In addition, J.A and W.B. conceptually developed the figures. J.A, W.B., K.C., J.H., B.M., J.M., S.S., E.M-K, S.C., H.K., wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to J. C. J. H. Aerts.

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Aerts, J.C.J.H., Botzen, W.J., Clarke, K.C. et al. Integrating human behaviour dynamics into flood disaster risk assessment. Nature Clim Change 8, 193–199 (2018).

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