Estimating the benefits of single value and probability forecasting for flood warning
Abstract. Flood risk can be reduced by means of flood forecasting, warning and response systems (FFWRS). These systems include a forecasting sub-system which is imperfect, meaning that inherent uncertainties in hydrological forecasts may result in false alarms and missed events. This forecasting uncertainty decreases the potential reduction of flood risk, but is seldom accounted for in estimates of the benefits of FFWRSs. In the present paper, a method to estimate the benefits of (imperfect) FFWRSs in reducing flood risk is presented. The method is based on a hydro-economic model of expected annual damage (EAD) due to flooding, combined with the concept of Relative Economic Value (REV). The estimated benefits include not only the reduction of flood losses due to a warning response, but also consider the costs of the warning response itself, as well as the costs associated with forecasting uncertainty. The method allows for estimation of the benefits of FFWRSs that use either deterministic or probabilistic forecasts. Through application to a case study, it is shown that FFWRSs using a probabilistic forecast have the potential to realise higher benefits at all lead-times. However, it is also shown that provision of warning at increasing lead-time does not necessarily lead to an increasing reduction of flood risk, but rather that an optimal lead-time at which warnings are provided can be established as a function of forecast uncertainty and the cost-loss ratio of the user receiving and responding to the warning.