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Interdisciplinary Approach to Hydrological Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Response and Effects of Climate Change on the Occurrence of Flood Severity in Central Alaska : Volume 369, Issue 369 (11/06/2015)

By Kontar, Y. Y.

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Book Id: WPLBN0004021218
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 5
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: Interdisciplinary Approach to Hydrological Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Response and Effects of Climate Change on the Occurrence of Flood Severity in Central Alaska : Volume 369, Issue 369 (11/06/2015)  
Author: Kontar, Y. Y.
Volume: Vol. 369, Issue 369
Language: English
Subject: Science, Proceedings, International
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection (Contemporary), Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications


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Kontar, Y. Y., Thoman, R. L., Lindsey, S. D., Plumb, E. W., & Bhatt, U. S. (2015). Interdisciplinary Approach to Hydrological Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Response and Effects of Climate Change on the Occurrence of Flood Severity in Central Alaska : Volume 369, Issue 369 (11/06/2015). Retrieved from

Description: Department of Geology and Geophysics, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska. In May 2013, a massive ice jam on the Yukon River caused flooding that destroyed much of the infrastructure in the Interior Alaska village of Galena and forced the long-term evacuation of nearly 70% of its residents. This case study compares the communication efforts of the out-of-state emergency response agents with those of the Alaska River Watch program, a state-operated flood preparedness and community outreach initiative. For over 50 years, the River Watch program has been fostering long-lasting, open, and reciprocal communication with flood prone communities, as well as local emergency management and tribal officials. By taking into account cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic features of rural Alaskan communities, the River Watch program was able to establish and maintain a sense of partnership and reliable communication patterns with communities at risk. As a result, officials and residents in these communities are open to information and guidance from the River Watch during the time of a flood, and thus are poised to take prompt actions. By informing communities of existing ice conditions and flood threats on a regular basis, the River Watch provides effective mitigation efforts in terms of ice jam flood effects reduction. Although other ice jam mitigation attempts had been made throughout US and Alaskan history, the majority proved to be futile and/or cost-ineffective. Galena, along with other rural riverine Alaskan communities, has to rely primarily on disaster response and recovery strategies to withstand the shock of disasters. Significant government funds are spent on these challenging efforts and these expenses might be reduced through an improved understanding of both the physical and climatological principals behind river ice breakup and risk mitigation. This study finds that long term dialogue is critical for effective disaster response and recovery during extreme hydrological events connected to changing climate, timing of river ice breakup, and flood occurrence in rural communities of the Far North.

Interdisciplinary approach to hydrological hazard mitigation and disaster response and effects of climate change on the occurrence of flood severity in central Alaska

Alaska-Flooding: Alaska – Flooding, FEMA-4122-DR, pda report_fema 4122 dr ak.pdf, last access: February 2015.; Andrews, L.: Hard lessons for FEMA: Galena rebuilds with federal help, in spite of federal help, Alaska Dispatch News, (last access: March 2015), 20 September 2013.; Andrews, L. and DeMarban, A.: Rescue aircraft evacuating more Galena residents as flooding worsens,, (last access: 15 February 2015), 2013.; Beltaos, S.: Progress in the study and management of river ice jams, Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 51, 2–19, doi:10.1016/j.coldregions.2007.09.001, 2008.; Bieniek, P. A., Bhatt, U. S., Rundquist, L. A., Lindsey, S. D., Zhang, X., and Thoman, R. L.: Large-Scale Climate Controls of Interior Alaska River Ice Breakup, J. Climate, 24, 286–297, doi:10.1175/2010JCLI3809.1, 2011.; CFR – Council on Foreign Relations: The Thawing Arctic: Risks and Opportunities, (last access: March 2015), 2013.; Cozzetto, K., Chief, K., Dittmer, K., Brubaker, M., Gough, R., Souza, K., Ettawageshik, F., Wotkyns, S., Opitz-Stapleton, S., Duren, S., and Chavan, P.: Climate change impacts on the water resources of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S., Climatic Change, 120, 569–584, 2013.; DHS: Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, FEMA's Response to the Disaster in Galena, Alaska, Jun14.pdf (last access: February 2015), 2014.; Galena: Get to know Galena,, last access: February 2015.; GSCP – Galena Strategic Community Plan, CommunityPlan_Intro.pdf (last access: February 2015), 2012.; Höppner, C., Bruündl, M., and Buchecker, M.: Risk Communication and Natural Hazards, CapHaz-Net WP5 Report, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Risk-Communication.pdf (last access: February 2015), 2010.; ICTMN – Indian Country Today Media Network: Galena, Alaska Struggles to Rebuild After Yukon River Ice Jam Causes Devastating Flood, (last access: February 2015), 2013.; McEntire, D.: Disaster Response and Recovery, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2007.; Mongin, A., Mesloh, D. E., and Beck, P. L.: History of Alaskan


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