Machine Learning for Generalizable Prediction of Flood Susceptibility (Papers Track)

Dylan Fitzpatrick (Carnegie Mellon University); Chelsea Sidrane (Stanford University); Andrew Annex (Johns Hopkins University); Diane O'Donoghue (kx); Piotr Bilinski (University of Warsaw)

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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. Statistical 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.