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National Flood Risk Characterization Tool


Highlights

  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the Corps needs a way to assess flood risk and establish priorities.
  • Abt’s National Flood Risk Characterization Tool (NFRCT) does that.
  • The tool enables users to visualize the flood-risk metrics on a map-based interface.
The Challenge

Climate change is producing extreme volatility in weather events. 100-year floods occur with alarming regularity. That produces challenges for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has too few dollars for all the needed projects. What the Corps needs is a way to assess flood risk and establishing priorities based on such criteria as the potential for asset damage, human exposure, and exposure of emergency response infrastructure, and vulnerability metrics.   

The Approach

Abt’s National Flood Risk Characterization Tool (NFRCT) does all that. It provides measures of relative risk and informs Corps decisions about investment priorities. Abt based the tool on innovative methods for using the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood zone mapping and the National Elevation Dataset to estimate flood depths in 100-year and 500-year flood zones. The tool aggregates results and displays them by levels of watersheds and by Corps districts and counties.

The Results

The tool enables users to visualize the flood-risk metrics on a map-based interface that includes several screening and ranking tools. Users can open detailed reports that show results for up to four watersheds at a time. A second of phase of tool development involved integration of Corps project information to enable National Flood Risk Management Program staff to use relative-risk information from the tool to make decisions about the Corps’ budget and spending priorities.