Professor Jeroen Aerts has been awarded with a prestigious VICI grant of 1.5 million Euros, funded by the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO). The research is on global trends in simulating global flood risk and the influence of human behavior on flood risk.
Flood risk and historical flood losses, have increased significantly over recent decades and will increase as a result of climate change, and socio-economic changes, such as population and economic growth. Flood risk assessment models are key to understanding the principles behind these changes, and to assess the effectiveness of policies and measures that reduce flood risk. However, a major flaw in these models is the absence of human behavior and related flood risk adaptation. While this omission may lead to uncertainty in assessment results, it also hampers our ability to assess how people respond to future changes and include these feedbacks in our assessments.
This project addresses this need, and aims to develop an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to include human decision making in global flood risk assessment. With such an approach we can better understand the influence of human decision making on historic and future trends in flood risk and improve our understanding of the spatial distribution of global-scale human-hydrological interactions. The approach incorporates the main recommendations made in existing flood risk studies to: (1) use the wealth of regional case studies as a basis for research into global scale flood risk, in order to explain related human flood adaptation behavior, (2) assess the role of risk perception in the decision making processes, which underlie trends in flood adaptation, (3) analyze the main components of flood risk hazard, exposure, and vulnerability and study their interrelationships, including non-linearities, and (4) study how public- or private partnerships between governments, insurers and households change, in terms of how much risk each participant carries and how they deal with risk reduction.
This research integrates these activities into one integrated flood risk assessment model with a new module that enables the simulation of human behavior in flood adaptation. To do this, the project brings together existing research topics in a truly interdisciplinary team of social scientists, economists, geographers, and hydrologists. They will initiate further interdisciplinary collaboration between major international networks such as the UNISDR Global Platform.