Researchers develop new model to assess for flood hazards

The widespread flooding that submerged parts of the province’s most densely populated regions in 2017 and 2019 exposed important gaps in Quebec’s flood preparedness regime. With thousands of people displaced and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damages incurred, the disasters spurred urgent re-investment in the aging system.

A new paper led by Concordia researchers outlines how advanced technology and recently available data is helping that effort.

The article is published in the journal Hydrological Processes. In it, lead author and research associate Guénolé Choné and Pascale Biron, professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, present a new methodology to create a watershed-scale flood model based on LiDAR data. Their co-authors include Thomas Buffin-Bélanger from the Université du Québec à Rimouski, Concordia research associate Iulia Mazgareanu, Jeff Neal of the University of Bristol and Christopher Sampson of the United Kingdom-based flood mapping company Fathom, an early pioneer in the field of large-scale flood mapping.

LiDAR – Light Detection and Ranging – is a mapping system that uses aircraft-mounted pulsed lasers to measure ranges on the Earth’s surface. The data it collects can be used to render extraordinarily precise representations of local topography, which can be immensely valuable to natural-resource industries, geographers and other researchers, including public safety authorities and insurers. In this case, the data was gathered by the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks for the benefit of Quebec’s large forestry industry. The data is publicly available on the Forêt ouverte website.

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