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Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR)

Natural hazards Diagram

Figure 1: Geographical extent and overlap of natural hazards in southern California.

Shakeout building blocks Diagram

Figure 2: Building blocks of the ShakeOut earthquake scenario. Secondary hazards include shaking induced liquefaction and landslides.Triggered hazards result from damages and include fire and hazardous waste spills.

Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) estimates consequences of natural hazard disaster scenarios as a strategy to engage decision-makers in increasing community resiliency, a community’s ability to cope with the effects of a disaster.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) SAFRR was initiated in 2006 as the Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project (MHDP) in southern California. Scenarios for an earthquake, a winter storm and a tsunami have been developed with partners and stakeholders to apply scientific information to community decision making and emergency management. The scenarios are constructed from a foundation of earth science describing the hazard events that are translated into physical and environmental damages, and social and economic consequences (figure 2). Experts from University of Colorado, Boulder have been contracted to evaluate the effectiveness of the scenario development process. Experience with SAFRR scenarios has inspired and enabled other research in related areas of risk analysis and risk communication.

USGS Western Geographic Science Center Contributions

The WGSC team, led by Anne Wein, has coordinated efforts to quantify economic impacts and address other consequences such as agricultural losses and population vulnerability, and describe recovery issues for the multi hazard scenarios. Earthquake (ShakeOut and Haywired), winter storm (ARkStorm), and tsunami scenarios have all been (or are currently being) assessed by WGSC’s researchers in cooperation with external subject experts using geographic analyses and economic and community recovery models the WGSC Research Team and in collaboration with external subject experts using geographic analyses, and economic impact and community recovery models.

Geographical Analyses — Spatial analysis is used to estimate the exposure of populations, land uses, infrastructures, and economic activities to the multiple hazards. Spatial analyses are also used to refine inputs into the economic impact models. Hazard and vulnerability maps are used to communicate elements of the scenario to expert panels, and in workshops, presentations, and reports.

Economic Consequence Analyses — Economic consequence analysis pertains to business interruption (productivity) losses due to physical damages and lifeline service outages. In catastrophic events when recovery languishes for many years (e.g., Hurricane Katrina) business interruption losses can exceed physical repair and replacement costs. The economic consequence analysis includes an investigation of economic resilience strategies at the levels of firms, sectors and the regional economy. For example, conservation of resources and repair contracts with incentives serve to reduce short-term business interruption losses and speed reconstruction and repair, respectively. In collaboration with the University of Southern Californian and Boston University, Input-output and computable general equilibrium models of regional economies are applied to estimate potential business interruption losses and economic resilience.  

Recovery Analyses and Community Studies — Just as police and fire fighters need exercises to prepare for emergency response, so must the "second wave" of responders — city managers, planners, building officials, engineers, and other staff who will have local recovery responsibilities. Thus, the recovery phase of a disaster also deserves attention in scenario-based emergency management exercises. For instance, in collaboration with Laurie Johnson Consulting, Inc. the ShakeOut scenario was extended by populating a recovery model in consultation with communities.

Furthermore, qualitative analyses are used to investigate stakeholders response to and use of scientific information.

Qualitative Analyses —Surveys and qualitative analyses are used to evaluate the effectiveness of the SAFRR scenario development process. WGSC manages the SAFRR tsunami evaluation contract with the Natural Hazards Center Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder. In collaboration with GNS Science, WGSC held focus groups and interviews to gather data on the communication of aftershock information during the Canterbury earthquake sequence in collaboration with GNS Science. A qualitative analysis is being performed on the transcripts.

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