The Western Geographic Science Center (WGSC) helps decision makers understand how people and the environment interact through geographic research on environmental and societal impacts from natural hazards and climate change. Our projects analyze human and environmental interactions over space and time. We work with many partners and link numerous natural and social science disciplines. WGSC staff are located across the USGS Pacific, Southwest, and Northwest regions, with our research topics ranging in scale from global food security to nationwide land cover change to community-level hazard analyses. Our research methods utilize the latest in remote sensing and GIS software to analyze a variety of spatial data such as Landsat satellite imagery, U.S. Census Bureau demographic data, LiDAR elevation data, and various data collected from local sensors built by our team.
Tsunami evacuation planning in coastal communities is typically based on maximum evacuation zones that reflect a combination of all potential extreme tsunamis. However, in the case of a smaller tsunami, this approach may result in more people being evacuated than need to be, and in doing so, may overly disrupt the local economy, and strain resources needed during emergency response.
“Community leaders and emergency managers struggle to maintain the balance between keeping as many people safe from a tsunami as possible without evacuating more people than necessary,” said Jeff Peters, USGS geographer and lead author of a new study to estimate the potential community benefits of planning for multiple evacuation zones.
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WGSC scientists briefed City planners on tsunami evacuation research results
USGS geographers Nathan Wood and Jeff Peters (pictured) with the WGSC met with city, county, and state emergency managers in Alameda, California, on September 8, 2016, to present recently published research on population-evacuation implications of multiple tsunami-evacuation zones in the City of Alameda. They also discussed results from research presently in review that estimates potential community and business benefits across all coastal California communities and counties of using variable evacuation zones that better reflect likely areas of impact from an impending tsunami, rather than the current maximum zone that incorporates multiple sources. This research in collaboration with California Geological Survey and California Office of Emergency Services is designed to help emergency managers understand potential benefits of planning for multiple evacuation zones in order to ensure public safety but minimize community disruptions. (Contact Jeff Peters, email@example.com or Nathan Wood, firstname.lastname@example.org with questions)