Flood hazard and vulnerability in Newfoundland communities

Hickman, Heather J. (2006) Flood hazard and vulnerability in Newfoundland communities. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Flooding affects many Newfoundland communities. Identification of hazards, areas of risk, and assessments of previous and potential socio-economic impacts, were conducted for three regions, including urban (Comer Brook), suburban (Torbay), and rural communities (Burin Peninsula and Humber Arm). These communities represent a variety of physical and socio-economic environments, enabling discussion of the comparative risks from various natural and human-induced flooding mechanisms. Flood risk maps are presented for the three regions. -- Floods in Newfoundland result from both natural and anthropogenic causes, and commonly occur due to the simultaneous operation of several mechanisms. Natural causes are directly related to Newfoundland's climate. Storm activity has a greater impact on flooding in Torbay and the Burin Peninsula than in the Humber Arm region. The associated storm surges are significant on the Burin Peninsula, whereas storm precipitation triggering river flooding has a greater effect on Torbay. Spring rain-on-snow events are a common flooding mechanism in the Humber Arm region. Additional flooding mechanisms affecting these communities include river and coastal ice jams, slope failures, natural accumulation of debris, and tsunamis. Climate change and variation may change the frequency and severity of flooding events, depending upon the flooding mechanism involved. -- Human activities that alter drainage patterns cause flooding. Artificial constriction of streams, failure of drainage infrastructure, and debris blockages cause flooding. Converting vegetated ground into impermeable surfaces increases runoff and enhances flooding events. Upslope development places lower-lying areas at risk. Municipal planning and identification of flood zone areas can reduce vulnerability to flooding. Maintenance of drainage and coastal protection infrastructure can also aid in limiting damage. -- Torbay has the lowest socio-economic vulnerability to flooding among the three study areas. Comer Brook is marked by high economic costs, but low social costs associated with flooding. The rural Humber Arm and Burin Peninsula regions show lesser degrees of economic vulnerability, but much higher social vulnerability. -- The three areas differ in the relative importance of human activities, meteorological effects, and climate variation and change impacts upon flooding. In Comer Brook, increased precipitation and changes in winter conditions are significant factors increasing flooding risk, combined with urban development. Along the Humber Arm, where building is not a major factor, climate impacts dominate. On the Burin Peninsula, potential climate change impacts on flooding are connected with storm frequency and severity, while changes in precipitation are less apparent. Changed flood risk in Torbay is related primarily to human activities, with climate change possibly playing an indefinite, subordinate role. The differences in response among these three regions indicate that detailed site-specific analysis must be conducted in order to properly assess flooding risk in other Newfoundland & Labrador communities.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10651
Item ID: 10651
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 371-383.
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Environmental Science
Date: 2006
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Floods--Newfoundland and Labrador; Storm surges--Newfoundland and Labrador; Storms--Newfoundland and Labrador.

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