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Machine Learning for Generalizable Prediction of Flood Susceptibility

Flooding is a destructive and dangerous hazard and climate change appears to be increasing the frequency of catastrophic flooding events around the world. Physics-based flood models are costly to calibrate and are rarely generalizable across different river basins, as model outputs are sensitive to site-specific parameters and human-regulated infrastructure. In contrast, statistical models implicitly account for such factors through the data on which they are trained. Such models trained primarily from remotely-sensed Earth observation data could reduce the need for extensive in-situ measurements. In this work, we develop generalizable, multi-basin models of river flooding susceptibility using geographically-distributed data from the USGS stream gauge network. Machine learning models are trained in a supervised framework to predict two measures of flood susceptibility from a mix of river basin attributes, impervious surface cover information derived from satellite imagery, and historical records of rainfall and stream height. We report prediction performance of multiple models using precision-recall curves, and compare with performance of naive baselines. This work on multi-basin flood prediction represents a step in the direction of making flood prediction accessible to all at-risk communities.

Chelsea Sidrane, Dylan J Fitzpatrick, Andrew Annex, Diane O’Donoghue, Piotr Bilinksi, Yarin Gal
Spotlight talk, Artificial Intelligence for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (AI+HADR) NeurIPS 2019 Workshop

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