Lecture on Managing Natural Disasters in a Changing Climate: Methods and Tools for a Systems Approach”

Lecture on Managing Natural Disasters in a Changing Climate: Methods and Tools for a Systems Approach"

Prof. Slobodan P. Simonovic will deliver an Institute-wide lecture titled "Managing Natural Disasters in a Changing Climate: Methods and Tools for a Systems Approach" on 24 March 2015 from 14:00-15:00 hours at the Milton E. Bender Jr. Auditorium.

Prof. Simonovic is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Director Engineering Studies, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

The disaster risk management process is presented as a framework for identifying, assessing, and prioritizing climate-related risks, and developing appropriate adaptation responses. Risk management can be defined as the systematic application of management policies, procedures, and practices to the tasks of analyzing, evaluating, controlling, and communicating about risk issues. Risk management as adaptation to changing conditions can benefit from all the available probabilistic and fuzzy set-based analytic tools, and the knowledge when each is appropriate, and how to apply them to practical problems.

The systems approach to managing disasters is the focus of this presentation, which outlines proven strategies for pooling interdisciplinary resources more efficiently to boost emergency responses. Four examples are selected to illustrate the presentation of methodological issues.

(1) System dynamics simulation model of a flood evacuation. The model presents an interesting application of system dynamics simulation for capturing human behavior during emergency flood evacuation. It simulates the acceptance of evacuation orders by the residents of the area under threat, the number of families in the process of evacuation, and the time required for all evacuees to reach safety. The model is conceptualized around the flooding conditions (both physical and management) and a core set of social and psychological factors that determine human behavior before and during the flood evacuation. The main purpose of the model is to assess the effectiveness of different flood emergency management procedures.

(2) Multi-objective optimization for selection of flood management alternatives. This example illustrates the process of selecting objectives, identifying alternatives, developing a pay-off matrix and finally ranking alternatives according to the preferences of decision makers.

(3) Spatial fuzzy risk modeling. This example presents a methodology for assessing spatial and temporal uncertainty associated with flood risk management. Traditional modeling approaches focus on either temporal or spatial variability, but not both. The main objective of the example is to present an original methodology for flood risk management that is capable of (a) addressing uncertainty caused by spatial and temporal variability and ambiguity; (b) integrating objective and subjective risks; and (c) assisting flood management decision making based on a more detailed understanding of temporal and spatial variability of risk. Presented methodology is illustrated using the Red River flood of 1997 (Manitoba, Canada) as a case study.

(4) Mapping risk to municipal infrastructure from climate change caused flooding. This example illustrates the top-down approach for flood risk assessment to municipal infrastructure due to the climate change. It provides an original approach to incorporating climate change into flood risk analysis and combines elements of probabilistic and fuzzy set approaches. The study was conducted for the City of London (Ontario, Canada) as one of the first steps in the implementation of the municipal climate change adaptation strategy.

About Prof Simonovic:

Dr. Simonovic has over thirty five years of research, teaching and consulting experience in water resources engineering. He is teaching courses in civil engineering and water resources systems. He actively works for national and international professional organizations. He has received a number of awards for excellence in teaching, research and outreach. He has been inducted into the Canadian Academy of Engineering in June of 2013. Dr. Simonovic has been invited to present special courses for practicing water resources engineers in many countries. He is assisting in the publication of water resources Journals, and participates actively in the organization of national and international meetings. He has published over 400 professional publications and three major textbooks.

Dr. Simonovic’s primary research interest focuses on the application of systems approach to, and development of the decision support tools for, management of complex water and environmental systems. Most of his work is related to the application of computerized simulation, optimization and multi-objective analysis tools in deterministic, probabilistic and fuzzy form. The second focus area of Dr. Simonovic’s research includes risk management. He is developing, and implementing, probabilistic and fuzzy set methods for water resources risk management. He has undertaken applied research projects that integrate the mathematical modeling, spatial and temporal data-base management and intelligent interface development into decision support tools for water resources decision makers. Most of his research is being conducted through the Facility for Intelligent Decision Support (FIDS) at the University of Western Ontario.

Subject Matter - Systems modeling; Risk management; Water resources and environmental systems analysis; Computer-based decision support systems development; Water resources education and training.
Topical Area - Flood control; Hydropower energy; Reservoirs; Operational hydrology; Climatic Change; Integrated water resources management.

His CV is available at this link.


Slobodan P. Simonovic
Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Director Engineering Studies, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction
The University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, N6A 5B9
(519)661-4075/4271 office voice
(519)661-3779/4273 office fax