Towards a Theory of Flood Disasters |

Towards a Theory of Flood Disasters

IWP Research Seminar


Flood disaster theory is required to enable deeper understanding for the design of disaster risk reduction policies, generalisations to places where there are few or no studies, and as a contribution to the developing fields of socio-hydrology and coupled social-ecological systems. While there are several existing candidate conceptual frameworks and putative theories for parts of the complex system that is a disaster there is nothing approaching what might be called a master theory. It is most likely that a master theory can be constructed from the emergent properties of flood disasters. Flood peak discharges, flood sediments, and flood damage and deaths are emergent properties and are fractal. The working hypothesis is that the fractal properties of flood peaks, damage and deaths are a result of the fractal nature of the drainage network that produces floods and the fractal nature of the precipitation that falls on the drainage networks. If this hypothesis is found to be sound then human vulnerability is not just a function of human decisions and actions. Vulnerability and hazard are therefore not independent; throwing into disarray the basis of much flood disaster analysis policy. Empirical data from Thailand, India and northern Australia will be used for illustration.

Dr Robert James Wasson

Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

In his most recent positions prior to joining NUS in 2011, Professor Wasson was Director of the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dean of Science and Head of the Department of Geography and Human Ecology at the Australian National University, then Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and International at Charles Darwin University, Australia. He has taught and researched at Sydney University, Macquarie University, University of Auckland, Monash University, and the Australian National University. He has been trained in geomorphology and his research interests are: causes of change in river catchments; environmental history; extreme hydrologic events in the tropics; cross-disciplinary methods; and the integration of science into public policy. He has conducted research in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Malaysia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Myanmar and Thailand. In his current position in India and Thailand he is examining: flood risk in relation to climate variability and change; the incubation of flood disasters; current and alternatives to flood mitigation policies; and, the utility of complexity analysis in studies of flood disasters.

Chair Person:

Dr Joost Buurman, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

Monday, 03 April 2017

12:15pm - 1:30pm


Seminar Room 3-5
Manasseh Meyer
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
469C Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 259772

Seats are limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Kindly register your interest in attending. Light lunch will be provided for those who RSVP by 29 March 2017 Register now

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