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A national scale flood hazard mapping methodology: The case of Greece – Protection and adaptation policy

Article in ScienceofTheTotalEnvironment·May2017

DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.05.197

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7 A national scale flood hazard mapping methodology: The

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case of Greece – protection and adaptation policy approaches

Nektarios N. Kourgialas (a) *, George P. Karatzas (b)

(a) Hellenic Agricultural Organization (H.A.O.-DEMETER), National Agricultural Research Foundation

12 (N.AG.RE.F.) - Institute for Olive Tree, Subtropical Crops and Viticulture (Water Recourses, Irrigation &

13 Environmental Geoinformatics Lab.), Agrokipio, 73100 Chania, Greece.

(b) School of Environmental Engineering - Technical University of Crete, Polytechneioupolis, 73100 Chania,

15 Greece.

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18 Abstract

19 The present work introduces a national scale flood hazard assessment methodology, using multi-

20 criteria analysis and artificial neural networks (ANNs) techniques in a GIS environment. The

21 proposed methodology was applied in Greece, where flash floods are a relatively frequent

22 phenomenon and it has become more intense over the last decades, causing significant damages in

23 rural and urban sectors. In order the most prone flooding areas to be identified, seven factor-maps

24 (that are directly related to flood generation) were combined in a GIS environment. These factor-

25 maps are: a) the Flow accumulation (F), b) the Land use (L), c) the Altitude (A), b) the Slope (S), e)

26 the soil Erodibility (E), f) the Rainfall intensity (R), and g) the available water Capacity (C). The name

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to the proposed method is “FLASERC”. The flood hazard for each one of these factors is classified

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into five categories: Very Low, Low, Moderate, High, and Very High. The above factors are combined

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and processed using the appropriate ANN algorithm tool. For the ANN training process spatial

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distribution of historical flooded points in Greece within the five different flood hazard categories

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of the aforementioned seven factor-maps were combined. In this way, the overall flood hazard map

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for Greece was determined. The final results are verified using additional historical flood events that

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have occurred in Greece over the last 100 years. In addition, an overview of flood protection

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measures and adaptation policy approaches were proposed for agricultural and urban areas located

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at very high flood hazard areas.

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Keywords: artificial neural networks, GIS, agricultural and urban flash floods, flood hazard,

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mitigation measures

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Highlights

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A new integrated national scale flood hazard mapping method based on GIS and ANN techniques

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This study provides, for the first time, a flood hazard map for entire Greece

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The methodology was validated based on historical flood events

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24 % of the total area of Greece is under very high flood hazard (50-year return period)

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An overview of flood protection and adaptation strategies for agricultural and urban sectors

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Introduction

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Floods are considered to be among the most frequent and destructive types of natural disasters

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worldwide, with significant consequences including: a) human and animal life losses, b) destructions

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of infrastructures, communication networks, and agricultural/livestock buildings, c) loss of crops

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and soils, d) transport of sediment loads and pollutants (Downton, 2001; Golian, 2010). Worldwide

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floods, especially during the last decades, record significant high rates both in absolute number of

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events, and in terms of financial losses. Specifically, it is estimated that floods cause about 40% of

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the damages caused by all natural disasters (Ologunorisa and Abawua, 2005; Munich Re, 2016).

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The different types of flooding are: river floods, flash floods, coastal flooding, urban floods,

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and sewer flooding (Kourgialas and Karatzas, 2016). Flash flood in the Mediterranean areas is the

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most common type of flood which occurred due to the small size of the river basins (short-time flow

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concentration), the geomorphology (high slopes or/and low permeability geological formations),

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and the intense rainfalls (Diakakis et al., 2012). These characteristics make flash flood a common

phenomenon not only to low-lying or adjacent to rivers areas, but also to mountainous plateaus.

Flash floods are characterized as one of the most disastrous hazards in terms of mortality and

infrastructures (Georgakakos, 2006). Recently, characteristic examples in Mediterranean countries

where flash floods caused significant economical damages and/or human losses can be seen in Italy

(Moramarco et al., 2005; Molinari et al. 2014), Greece (Kourgialas and Karatzas, 2014a;

Papagiannaki et al., 2015), France (Gaume et al., 2004; Delrieu et al., 2005), and Spain (Llasat et al.,

2013).

Flash floods are strongly influenced by meteorological conditions and different land uses,

thus flash flood events, in the upcoming decades, are going to be highly influenced due to climate

and land use changes (Posthumus et al., 2008; Muis et al., 2015; Kourgialas et al., 2015). Roudier et

al., 2016 investigate the hydrological impacts of a +2°C global warming on extreme hydrological

events (floods and droughts) in Europe. The results of this research show that flood magnitudes are

expected to increase notably in areas south of 60

o N floods will decrease, with the exception of some coastal areas

in Norway and southern Sweden where floods probably will be increased. An integrated analysis of

floods along with droughts shows that the impact of global warming will be more extreme in Spain,

Portugal, Greece, France, and Albania. Specifically, flooding events will be expected to be more

frequent in recent years especially in the Mediterranean region. Thus, all the necessary measures

to avoid or minimize the consequences of the oncoming floods should be taken by the

Mediterranean countries.

Many countries especially in Southeast Asia and Africa face a severe increase in flood risk (Di

Baldassarre et al., 2010a; Winsemius et al., 2016). Flood risk maps are generated using multi-

parametric approaches that combine physical (hazard) and socio-economic (vulnerability) factors.

Nevertheless, existing global flood risk projections fail to accurate predict the dynamics of socio-

economic development or/and climate change (Ward et al., 2015; Winsemius et al., 2016). The

knowledge of flood hazard is also essential to adapt any strategy for minimizing the flood risk, which

in turn can reduce the losses of human life and damages in urban and rural sectors (Pappenberger

et al., 2013; Sampson et al., 2015). Flood hazards can be defined as threatening events, or the

probability of occurrence of a potentially damaging phenomena within a given time period and area

(Di Baldassarre et al., 2010b). However, in recent years, flood hazard maps are still lacking in many

south of Spain, while north of 60

o N, except in the areas of Poland, Bulgaria, and

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countries. This is mainly due the limited availability of adequate data for flood hazard studies such

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as hydrologic observations, historical flood events, and topographical surveys of

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channels/floodplains (Samela et al., 2017). All these data are rarer in ungauged river basins of many

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developing countries of Asia, Africa, or South America. Based on this, for producing large scale flood

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hazard maps, several researchers have addressed the prediction of flood hazard at ungauged sites

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by using regionalization methods, simplified hydrological routing schemes, methods based on

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geomorphology for generating relationships between flood and floodplain, and using high

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resolution satellite images for quantifying changes in surface water (Nardi et al., 2006; Dodov et al.,

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2006; Manfreda et al., 2011; Pekel et al., 2016; Samela et al., 2017).

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Based on the Floods Directive 2007/60/EC, each member of the European Union should

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design flood hazard maps using different levels of hazard (probabilities of flooding). This

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classification would make the information of flood hazard more obvious to the local authorities and

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easily understandable to the public, providing at the same time valuable spatial information

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regarding the degree of flood hazard and the priorities regarding the planning of the flood

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protection measures (Yannopoulos et al., 2015). At the present time, reporting the progress of EU

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members on national scale flood mapping this information is missing from Bulgaria, Greece, Malta

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and Portugal. Thus, one of the aims of this study is to cover this knowledge gap providing an easy

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to be applied methodology for assessing flood hazard at national scale.

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Hydrological/hydraulic models have been widely used in many flood mapping studies

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(Chatterjee et al., 2008; Ballesteros et al., 2011; Brocca et al., 2011; Kourgialas and Karatzas, 2014a;

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Papaioannou et al., 2016). In many cases, these models are inadequate for ungauged or/and

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national scale areas, such as Greece, where the majority of the country’s territory consists of small

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ungauged or poorly gauged river basins. Valuable tools to overcome these hydrological/hydraulic

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modeling limitations are the combination of artificial neural network (ANN) and GIS techniques.

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ANNs are commonly used data-driven methods that have proved capable of prediction of water

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resource variables with great accuracy (Besaw et al., 2010). ANNs display mapping effectiveness to

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generalize reliable data in parallel with high speed. Based on these capabilities, ANNs are designed

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for pattern recognition and classification applications, which make them very suitable for flood

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forecasting (Toth et al., 2002; Rietjes and de Vos, 2008; Sulafa, 2014). Their drawbacks are related

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to their black box approach (no physical meaning of the concerning parameters), and extrapolation

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capacity (He et al., 2014). The ANN disadvantages can be overcome combining them with GIS

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techniques. GIS are particularly useful in flood hazard mapping as it can incorporate both the spatial

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and physical dimension of the floods (Yahaya et al., 2010; Wang et al., 2011; Chau et al., 2013;

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Kazakis et al., 2016). Up to now, flood mapping using ANNs and GIS have been applied in various

small scale case studies (Islam and Sado, 2002; Masoud et al., 2012; Song et al., 2013).

The main objective of this work is to propose an integrated and easy to apply ANNs and GIS

modeling approach, able to provide reliable large scale flood hazard maps in data scarce regions.

This modeling approach combines different factor-maps which capture all the aspects of the

hydrological cycle that contribute in flood generation. The proposed methodology shows an

advance over existing methods, since: a)it integrates seven different factors, that are directly related

to the flood development which are flow accumulation, land use, altitude, slope, soil erodibility,

rainfall intensity, and available water capacity - into a unified GIS model that incorporates all

information necessary to reduce the level of uncertainty of the flood hazard, b) it consolidates ANNs

techniques in order to face an important problem in a GIS multi-criteria analysis. This problem is

related to the determination of the weights of the involved factors, which in most cases are subject

to the subjective estimation of the decision-maker, c) it is effectively adapted to complex

geomorphological large scale environments, such as the country Greece, providing, for the first

time, a flood hazard map for the entire country, d) it is validated for different historical flood events

took place in Greece the last 100 years, and e) it provides an overview of flood protection measures

and policy approaches for agricultural and urban areas located at very high flood hazard areas

Study area

Greece is located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean zone covering an area of about 132.000

km

The geological formations in Greece mainly consist of karstic (carbonate rocks) and porous (alluvial

and/or neogene deposits) formations (Daskalaki and Voudouris, 2008). Greece has 54 prefectures

(the country's main administrative unit), and 14 Water Districts (Dokou et al., 2015), which are : 01)

West Peloponnese, 02) North Peloponnese, 03) East Peloponnese, 04) West Central Greece, 05)

Epirus, 06) Attica, 07) East Central Greece, 08) Thessaly, 09) West Macedonia, 10) Central

Macedonia, 11) East Macedonia, 12) Thrace, 13) Crete, and 14) Aegean Islands. All these Water

Districts are presented in the map of Figure 1a. An extended part of Greece is mountainous covering

about 80% of the country’s area. The population of Greece reaches 11 million inhabitants mainly

distributed at coastal regions and on the islands. The population magnitude in the main urban

2 . Greece has the longest coastline in Europe, exceeding 15.000 km along the Mediterranean Sea.

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centers is classified in the following order: Athens (Water District of Attica), Thessaloniki (Water

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District of Central Macedonia), Patras (Water District of North Peloponnese) and Herakleion ( of

Crete). A significant part of Greece, mainly lowland areas, is covered by intensively agricultural areas

such as tree crops (olive, citrus, peaches, apples, vineyards etc) and annual crops (cereals, maize,

cotton, potatoes, tomatoes etc), (Ministry of Agriculture of Greece, 2010). Greece is characterized

by small to medium size river basins, with ephemeral streams to be the majority of drainage

networks. The special geomorphology of these small river basins, which exhibit intense topography

with thin and impenetrable soil, as well as the lack of large river networks makes flash flooding to

be the most common type of flood inundation caused by intensive rainfalls. Moreover, river flow

hydrological data are scarce since most of the catchments are ungauged or limited monitoring,

therefore, the available database of historical flood events is mainly reported than recorded data

(Kourgialas et al., 2012).

In the present study, based on different sources of information, an extensive database of

historical flooding events of the last 100 years was developed (Diakakis et al., 2012; Karymbalis et

al., 2012; Diakakis and Deligiannakis, 2013; Bathrellos et al., 2016; Kourgialas and Karatzas, 2016;

Ministry of Environmental and Energy of Greece, 2016; Diakakis 2017). Based on this, six hundred

(600) flood events, that caused extensive damages in rural and urban sectors, with six hundred

nighty (690) human casualties have been reported/recorded across the country (Diakakis and

Deligiannakis, 2017). These data show that urban environments tend to have a higher flood

recurrence rates than rural areas. Figure1b represents the distribution of floods that occurred

in each

across Greece during the last 100 years, expressed as the number of events per 100 km

prefecture (Diakakis et al., 2012).

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Figure 1

Methodology

In order to determine the flood hazard areas in Greece, five different flood Hazard Levels (HL) were

considered (very high, high, moderate, low and very low). Each level describes the probability to

have a flood event within a hydrological year as following: 2% probability (50-year return period) -

Very high flood hazard level, 1% probability (100-year return period) - High flood hazard level, 0,5%

probability (200-year return period) - Moderate flood hazard level, 0,2% probability (500-year

return period) - Low flood hazard level, <0,2% probability (> 500-year return period) - Very low flood

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hazard level. The final map of flood hazard was created using the combination of seven (7) individual

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thematic maps directly related to flooding. The thematic maps were related to: the Flow

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accumulation (F), b) the Land use (L), c) the altitude (A), b) the Slope (S), e) the soil Erodibility (E), f)

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the Rainfall intensity (R), and g) the available water Capacity (C).

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The factors (F), (A), (S), (E), (R), and (C) have numerical values, while the (L) factor is

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expressed in a descriptive form. The effect of each factor to flood hazard level is mapped based on

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five different (HL) from very high to very low. For the factors with numerical values the Jenk’s

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Natural Breaks method was used to indicate the five different flood hazard levels. For the (L) factor

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the classification depends on the influence of the land use on the flood process. For instance, forest

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areas with high density land cover indicate a very low flood hazard level, whereas burnt forest areas

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indicate areas a very high flood hazard level (Martin-Vide et al., 1999). The above mentioned factors

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as well as the (HL) are shown in Table 1 and they were selected based on literature review and

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quantification of experts’ opinions such as hydrogeologists, hydro-agronomists, and

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environmentalist (Eimers et al., 2000; Chenini et al., 2010; Yahaya et al., 2010; Kourgialas and

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Karatzas, 2011; Kazakis et al., 2015).

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Each of the aforementioned maps/factors were georeferenced to the EGSA’87 (Greek

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Coordinate System - EPSG Projection 2100). The produced raster maps have a geometric resolution

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equal to 20m. Field measurements and GIS techniques were used to determine and digitalize the

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above seven maps/factors. Specifically, in order to create the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) for

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Greece topographic maps (1:50 000 and 1:5000) were used. Using DEM, the slope map (degree) was

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produced applying the 3D Analyst tool in a GIS environment. Generally, slope and altitude are

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inversely proportional to the appearance of flood events (Kourgialas and Karatzas, 2016), (Table 1).

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Also, the Arc Hydro - flow accumulation algorithm was used for the creation of the flow

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accumulation map (ESRI, 2008). Flow accumulation map specifies the number of pixel-cells that

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hydrologically add to each raster cell. In this map, the lower the accumulation of runoff in a pixel-

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cell the lower the flood hazard (Table 1). The original data related to the soil water capacity and soil

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erodibility of Greece were obtained from the European Soil Bureau Network

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(http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/wrb/). Soil erodibility is a crucial factor that affects the flooding

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flow hydrographs as well as the consequent damages. Specifically, soil erodibility is an average

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annual value of the soil profile reaction to the processes of soil disconnection and transport by

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surface flow and raindrop (Panagos et al., 2012; Kourgialas et al., 2016). Decomposition rate

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depends on soil consistency; the less coherent the soil the more easily it can be carried away by the

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surface flow which transfers significant amounts of sediment load leading to siltation of water ways.

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The large sediment yield is a common characteristic of flash floods causing extensive destructions

(Jinren and Yingkui, 2003). Moreover, the higher the soil erodibility is, the larger the peak outflow

rate is (Chang and Zhang, 2010). Based on the above, soil erodibility is strongly related to the flood

hazard and areas with increased values are more prone to flooding. Soil water capacity is associated

directly with the ability of soil to absorb water that controls the amount of surface runoff. Thus,

high values of soil water capacity can reduce the flood hazard, while soil water capacity values close

to zero can lead to an increased surface runoff and a greater flood hazard (Cazemier et al., 2001),

(Table 1).

In order to create the land use map of Greece remote sensing methods (satellite images)

and the Corine land cover database (European Environmental Agency - EEA,

http://www.eea.europa.eu) were used. The land use factor is associated with the vegetation cover

that controls both the amount of precipitation and the time that it takes to reach the soil surface

contributing to surface runoff. Thus, dense vegetation cover with deep and extent root zones can

reduce flood and water erosion hazard, while areas without vegetation can lead to an increased

surface runoff and have a greater hazard of flooding (Posthumus et al., 2008), (Table 1). For the

Rainfall intensity (R) factor monthly rainfall values from 407 rainfall stations were used for the time

period 1960-2014, (www.meteorologia.gr). The spatial distribution of these stations is shown in

Figure 1c. Based on these data, the Modified Fournier Index was employed to create the map of the

Rainfall intensity in Greece (Morgan, 2005):

MFI =

where:

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p

P

,

(1)

MFI: the Modified Fournier Index,

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: the 12-month summation, p: the average monthly rainfall,

and P: the average annual rainfall.

MFI indicator indicates the sum of the average monthly rainfall intensity at a station. Next, in a GIS

environment, using the spline method, the MFI value of each station was interpolated. Spline is

considered to be the most appropriate interpolation method to depict smoothly varying surfaces of

phenomena such as rainfall (Goovaerts, 2000; Lloyd, 2005; Kourgialas and Karatzas, 2014b).

Monthly rainfall data could be considered as an acceptable mapping approach for rainfall intensity

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factor, since: a) this factor does not require exact values of rainfall intensity but classifies it into five

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categories of hazard, b) this approach was justified by a large number of meteorological stations,

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and c) in Mediterranean ephemeral streams the surface runoff has seasonal character (Camarasa

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Belmonte and Segura Beltran, 2001).

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ANN technique for the creation of final flood hazard map

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The above seven factors/maps do not have the same weight of influence on flood generation, thus

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a correlation approach of all factors was applied to create the final flood hazard map for Greece.

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This analysis was performed using ANN techniques of the matlab toolbox. ANNs have been

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confirmed as a particularly classified modeling method for solving non-linear problems such as the

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classification of flood hazard level (Dandy and Maier, 2000; Kumar et al., 2004). ANN consists of

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simple processing structures named neurons, which are connected to a system network by a

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number of weights. Each neuron calculates the network's output by taking a number of inputs,

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weighting them, summing them up, adding a bias, and using the result as the argument for a singular

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valued transfer function (Rietjes and de Vos, 2008).

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Input-output variables / Performance evaluation

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As it was mentioned above the historical flood events used in this study are referred to the last 100

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years (very high or high flood hazard areas). However, in order for ANN to be trained in areas of

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moderate to very low flood hazard, a random distribution of 200 theoretical flooded points, located

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in the moderate, low and very low flood frequency category map of Greece, as described in Figure

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1b (Diakakis et al., 2012), were considered. Based on the above, an integrated database of 800 flood

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points was created from 600 historical and 200 theoretical flooded points located in all flood hazard

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areas. For ANN training purposes, 70% of the above historical and theoretical flooded points

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distributed in the entire territory of Greece were used, while a dataset of the remaining 30% ooded

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locations were used for the purpose of testing. To convey the connection between historical-

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theoretical flooded points and the seven involving factors maps the “Extract by Mask” tool in GIS

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environment was used. According to this tool, the cells of each of the seven factor maps (raster files)

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that correspond to the historical-theoretical flooded points (mask data) were extracted. In this way,

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the extracted points were identified and exported as a database D1 which indicates the coordinates

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and the five different flood hazard levels, described as numerical values, for each point and factor

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map. This database D1 is used to train the ANN in matlab environment. The simulation performance

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of the ANN model was evaluated based on the Root Mean Square Error (RMSE), the coefficient of

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determination (R2), and the Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiency coefficient (NSC). In a GIS environment,

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each of the seven factor maps that describe the five levels of flood hazard is converted into a point

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shapefile (32236 points per factor). Each point contains the information of the coordinates as well

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as the relevant flood hazard. Subsequently, a second database D2 of the seven point shapefiles is

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exported in a excel sheet to be used as the input (sample) to the already trained ANN model. A final

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output database D3, from the 32236 points, was created for the entire territory of Greece. Next,

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database D3 was introduced in the GIS environment and by choosing the appropriate spatial

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interpolation method the final flood hazard map of Greece was created (raster format with 100 x

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100 m resolution). For the spatial interpolation, Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW), Spline, and

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Kriging methods were tested. The choice of the most reliable spatial interpolation method was

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based on the statistical metric of the total error. The final flood hazard map was verified based on

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the spatial distribution of the 600 flood events that have occurred across Greece the last 100 years.

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ANN architecture

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A feed forward neural network, trained with the Levenberg-Marquardt method (Rumelhart et al.,

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1994), was used to estimate the final flood hazard map. In addition, one hidden layer was employed.

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This choice was done based on the literature review according to which for most ANN applications

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one hidden layer is sufficient and it offers adequate generalization performance and also reduces

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the extra computational time of a second layer (Kourgialas et al., 2015; Rumelhart et al., 1994). The

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trial and error method was used to determine the optimal number of neurons, in order the network

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to have enough degrees of freedom and at the same time to be capable of generalization. (Teschl

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and Randeu, 2006). Networks with 10-150 neurons were tested. The network with the smallest

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number of neuron that gave the best combination of errors was chosen as the optimal model. The

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sum of training, testing and validation errors was used as the performance indicator. The proposed

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ANN modeling approach is schematically represented in Figure 2.

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Table 1

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Figure 2

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Results

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Table 1 presents the classification of the seven factors at the five hazard levels. These seven maps

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developed by the classification method are presented in Figures 3a and 3b. The combination of the

seven maps (flow accumulation, land use, altitude, slope, soil erodibility, rainfall intensity, and

available water capacity) was applied based on the proposed ANN methodology. Using the ANN

modeling approach the final map of flood hazard areas in Greece was generated by combining the

above mentioned factors.

Figures 3a, 3b

Regarding the results of the ANN, different networks were developed, trained, validated and

compared. Among the networks with a neuron number between 10 and 150 that were tested, the

one with the smallest number of neurons that gave the best combination of training, testing and

validation errors was the one with the 120 neurons. The simulation performance of the ANN model

was evaluated on the basis of the following goodness of fit metrics: the Root Mean Square Error

2 ), and the Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiency coefficient

= 0.98, and

2 = 0.98, and NSC= 0.97. For the validation

(NSC). Thus, the following values were obtained: for the training period, RMSE = 0.37, R

NSC= 0.97 and for the testing period, RMSE = 0.41, R

2 = 0.96, and the NSC= 0.95. The above statistical

metrics indicate a very good performance of the outputs of the ANN modeling approach. These

outputs (database D3) describe the spatial distribution of the 32236 points covering the entire

territory of Greece where each point represents a corresponding flood hazard level. Also, as

mentioned earlier, the database D3 is introduced into GIS and based on the appropriate spatial

interpolation method (Inverse Distance Weighting, Spline, and Kriging) the final flood hazard map

for Greece was created. For the creation of the final flood hazard map the appropriate interpolation

method was verified and selected based on the historical flooding points in Greece (last 100 years).

For the total 600 recorded/reported historical flooded points, 510 have a 50-year return period,

while the rest of them have a 100-year return period. Specifically, in Figure 4 a,b the locations of

the historical flooded points, occurred within a 50-year return period, are marked with black

symbols, while historical flooded points occurred within a 100-year return period are marked with

blue symbols. According to this figure, the majority of the historical flooded points are located in

the western part of Greece. Table 2 shows the number and the percentage error of flooding points

that are located at very high and high flood hazard areas of the final map for each of the three

interpolation methods. According to this table the Spline interpolation method shows the best

period the RMSE index was equal to 0.52, the R

(RMSE), the coefficient of determination (R

2

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results (total error of 2.17%) as almost all the recorded/reported historical floods with a 50-year

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6

7

8

9

10

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15

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return period (502 of 510 points, 98.4%) occurred at the very high flood hazard areas with only eight

of them to be in the areas of high flood hazard. On the other hand, the majority of

recorded/reported historical floods with a 100-year return period (85 of 90 points, 94.4%) were

located within the identified areas of high flood hazard, with only five of them to be in the areas of

moderate flood hazard. The good agreement between historical flood events and the final flood

hazard map appears to be not only at the low and semi-mountainous lands but also at the mountain

plateaus areas of Greece.

All of the aforementioned information validates the spatial reliability of the proposed

methodology for the territory of Greece. According to the verified final flood hazard map (Figure 5),

2 (24%) of the Greek territory is subject to very high flood hazard and 19686

(15%) is under high flood hazard. In addition, 26103 km

(20%) can be characterized as areas of moderate, low and very low flood hazard, respectively.

2 (21%) and 25647

km

km

an area of 31040 km

2

2

2 (20%), 27695 km

In addition, regarding the land uses, 856 km

very high flood hazard. Regarding the agricultural land, arable area of about 7027 km

the total arable area in Greece), permanent crops of about 854 km

area in Greece) is under very high flood hazard. Furthermore, pasture areas of about 2377 km 2

2 (8.99% of the total permanent

(39.04% of

2 (about 37.22%) of the artificial areas of Greece is under

2

(31.66% of the total pasture area in Greece) are under very high flood hazard level.

Based on the spatial distribution of flood hazard in Greece (Figure 5), very high flood hazard

areas are equally distributed between the western and eastern part of Greece. Additionally, flood

occurrence appears to be more intense in the lowlands and urban areas of Greece. For agricultural

intensification areas such as the western part of Peloponnese, the central Macedonia, and Thessaly

the final map shows extended areas characterized by very high flood hazard (Figure 5). This can be

justified by taking into consideration that in farmlands more runoff is generated and discharged

more rapidly due to agricultural intensification (O’Connell et al., 2007; Morris et al., 2010). In

addition, many of the above cultivated areas are low land valleys, where the groundwater over-

exploitation has often led to a land subsidence, which in fact increases significantly the flood hazard

level. Furthermore, very high flood hazard areas are observed at extended urbanization areas such

as the Water District of Attica.

Table 3 shows the flood hazard areas and the corresponding percentage for each of the 14

Water Districts of Greece. According to this table the Water Districts of Attica has the highest

percentage of the area (about 33%) which is subject to very high flood hazard, followed by the Water

1

District of West Peloponnese with a percentage of very high flood hazard area to be equal to 31%.

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

The Water Districts with the lowest percentages of very high flood hazard appear to be the areas of

West (13%) and East Macedonia (11%).

In a GIS environment, the above classification results and the flood hazard maps (including

map coordinates) can be produced by local authorities. Thus, maps of high flood hazard areas with

the relative information could be distributed to the citizens, and farmers, to raise awareness. As

mentioned above, Greece is considered as one of the most important cultivation regions in the

2 (29.3%) of the agricultural

areas are located in very high flood hazard regions. Thus, a significant percentage of the agricultural

sector in Greece is under very high or high flood hazard. Furthermore, higher than 30% of the

Mediterranean zone. Based on the final flood hazard map, 3500 km

artificial land use in Greece is under very high flood hazard.

For the current work, the validation of the modeling results with historical flood events

strengthens the accuracy of the final results. The limits of the proposed methodology are: (a) the

necessity of detailed meteorological, topographical, as well as soil-land use knowledge of the study

area, and (b) extended database of flood data for a long historical period. However, the above limits

minimize the uncertainty in the prediction of the flood hazard. Moreover, in this study seven factors

are used for capturing the information related to the generation of floods in order to reduce the

uncertainty and to improve the utility of hazard modeling for decision making. While the uncertainty

of flood hazard results, that derives from the historical flood data adaptability, for some input

factors such as land use can be significant, for the other six factors is usually low, provided that the

map information is accurate and up-to-date.

Figure 4

Figure 5

Table 2

Table 3

Discussion

1

Based on the above results, it is very important to highlight flood protection and adaptation

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approaches for agricultural and urban sectors such that to minimize the consequence of flood

damages under different human activities and climate change conditions.

An appropriate flood protection plan should start from the mountainous regions (elevations

> 800m). In these regions, the kinetic energy of flow is increasing, while the water volume is

collected and promoted to the low regions. Thus, technical measures such as inhibitory dams and

tanks can be established for the interception of an oncoming flood event. Specifically, at locations

where the kinetic energy of the flow is increased the above small hydraulic structures can contribute

to the time desynchronization of the water accumulation, as well as to the decrease of the released

kinetic energy (Borrows and Bruin, 2006; Kourgialas and Karatzas, 2011). Moreover, in mountainous

areas protection measures due to deforestation should be considered, since they can prevent

downstream flood phenomena (Evrard et al., 2007).

In the intermediate regions (elevations from 800 – 200m) as well as for low regions

(elevations < 200m), common practices that lead to interception of floods, include the cleaning of

watercourse from deposits and the protection of banks from erosion. Moreover, stone walls could

be constructed along the river banks where overbank flows and erosion phenomena have occurred

in the past. In general, these regions are mainly suitable for interventions that ensure the natural

operation of the flood plain and protect very high flood hazard areas (Förster et al., 2005). Also, in

these regions intensive and irresponsible human activities in urban and rural sector tend to magnify

the hazard of flood; therefore the above mentioned operations are of high importance. Agricultural

land can act as a pathway to flood generation leading to significant damages in the urban and rural

sector. In the intermediate and low land areas, many studies highlight the link between agricultural

2 ) (O’Connell et al.,

2007; Environment Agency, 2008). Specifically, land management practices can have greater impact

on the delay of the flood peaks, especially for small and medium events increasing the flood warning

times (Salazar et al., 2009). As a result, good agricultural land practices can retain water in the

landscape contributing to flood hazard alleviation. Taking into consideration that Greece has many

agricultural areas mainly located at the intermediate and low lands this evidence could be very

important for an appropriate flood management plan at national scale. Based on this, the present

study highlights and identifies best land management practices which enhance the infiltration

capacity and the degree of flow connectivity for runoff control. Infiltration capacity can be increased

based on practices which reduce soil compaction and improve soil structure, for instance: grazing

land management and flood generation at farm and sub-catchment scale (<10km

1

management, seasonal removal of livestock to avoid poaching of soils, avoidance of field machinery

2

and field operations under wet conditions, soil improvement measures such as conservation tillage,

3

and improvement field drainage system. On the other hand, practices which control runoff by

4

influencing the rate at which water from fields discharges into watercourses (degree of flow

5

connectivity) include contour ploughing, retention ponds, artificial banding, hedgerows, stonewalls,

6

field margins, buffer strips and woodlands (Wheater, et al., 2009; Carroll et al., 2004; Morris et al.,

7

2010).

8

Apart from these pre-flood measures, at river basin scale, it is vital to establish an adequate

9

flood warning system. This system should consist of optimal located telemetric hydro-

10

meteorological stations. The data of these stations will be used as input to a real time hydrological-

11

hydraulic simulation system (Brocca et al., 2011; Kourgialas et al., 2012). Based on this, the local

12

authorities can maximize: a) the potential warning time (time between the beginning of rainfall and

13

the threshold exceedance), b) the response-warning time which includes the recognition of the

14

threat and the decision making approach, and c) the mitigation time which will moderate the flood

15

disasters and it will reduce their effects. To increase the mitigation time, actions such as the removal

16

of destroyed structures from the flooded regions, campaigns and briefing for the public, and flood-

17

preventing to existing buildings could be considered. Many researchers emphasize that the above

18

flood mitigation actions are more beneficial in the urban sector than in the agriculture (Thieken et

19

al., 2007; Morris et al., 2010). Specifically, in high flood hazard agriculture areas adapted strategies

20

could be followed by farmers as a suitable solution for reducing the damages. These adaptations

21

could include strategies related to mitigation flooding at downstream urban regions by making

22

space for flood water at intermediate agricultural areas (rural floodplains) and/or switching

23

economic beneficial crops that are more tolerant to climate change effects and especially to

24

flooding (Blackwell and Maltby, 2006).

25

Many crops, during critical growth periods, are sensitive to anaerobic soil conditions caused

26

by the excess water covering the land during a flood event. Thus, in case of a flood event, a yield

27

reduction or a death of sensitive to flood crops can be observed (Morris and Hess, 1988). The impact

28

of flooding on agriculture varies noticeably according to tolerance of the particular crop to water

29

excess , the duration, the frequency, the depth, and the seasonality of the event. At farm scale, the

30

flood consequences can affect the profitability of the farm business, however at national scale the

31

economical impact of flooding depends on whether crops lost in one area can be replaced in terms

32

of production elsewhere in the country. Based on this, in low flood hazard areas, an adaptation

1

strategy could exchange less valuable crops for more valuable ones and take up unused land.

2

Additionally, at areas where floods are frequently observed (very high flood hazard areas) the land

3

use may be limited to low productivity or/and flood-tolerant species. In Greece agriculture occupies

4

a large proportion of the landscape. Therefore, an adopting agricultural approach at very high flood

5

hazard areas could be the effectively cultivated flood-tolerant species according the specific

6

climatological conditions of each area. At the same time, this would ensure a satisfactory and

7

surplus income (Morris et al., 2010; Kourgialas and Karatzas, 2016).

8

In the Mediterranean area flash floods take place mainly in winter, spring and autumn. Based

9

on this and taking into consideration whether different mature plants are or not in the growing

10

season (when the plants are in the growing season they tend to be more flood sensitive), the order

11

of the most common Mediterranean cultivated flood tolerance plants is quince, pear, apple, plum,

12

the order for moderately flood-tolerant species is citrus, cherry, apricot, peach, and almond, while

13

for non –flood tolerant plants the order is olive, vineyard, avocado, and annual crops (Schaffer et

14

al., 2006; Posthumus et al., 2008; Kourgialas and Karatzas, 2016). Greece is mainly dominated by

15

olive, citrus, vineyard, avocado, and annual crops. These cultivations are generally sensitive to

16

flooding (not tolerant to wet or flooded soil conditions). Thus, for a national adaptation strategy in

17

the agricultural sector and by taking into consideration the specific climatological condition as well

18

as the farmers’ income, pear and apple trees could be a prospective horticulture for very high flood

19

hazard areas of semi-mountainous and mountainous regions in Greece and quince for low lands,

20

respectively (Kourgialas and Karatzas, 2016). For annual crops located at very high flood hazard

21

areas it is recommended to be replaced by summer growing period varieties of species (complete

22

their life cycle between floods) or/and flood tolerance grassland vegetation (grazing and energy

23

grasses, herbs etc.). Grassland plants survive flash flood wave because of their small size and thin

24

flexible leaves (Day et al., 1980). Based on literature, some annual forage legumes such as Trifolium

25

michelianum, distributed in the Mediterranean basin, are flood-tolerant plants (Striker and Colmer,

26

2016). Specifically, Trifolium michelianum flourishes in sandy to clayey soils, requires precipitation

27

between 350–750 mm/year and ensures dry mass yield between 5-8 t/ha/year. The important role

28

of forage legumes consists also in their contribution to the nitrogen (N) economy of grazing lands,

29

increasing the production of herbage and the quality of grazing livestock (Porqueddu et al., 2016).

30

The above species should also be selected based on the specific climatologically conditions of each

31

area and the income that its crop can ensure to farmers.

32

1

2

Conclusion

3

For many EU members, such as Greece, a national scale flood hazard mapping and a

4

protection/adaptation strategy approach do not exist. In this paper, the spatial flood hazard in

5

Greece is identified using GIS and ANNs techniques. Moreover, this work highlights the importance

6

of ANNs in producing flood hazard maps especially at large/national scale. The flood hazard areas

7

were determined based on the classification of the flood hazard in five categories ranging from very

8

high to very low. Thus, urban and agricultural areas that are most susceptible to flooding were

9

determined. These areas were identified based on the combination of seven flood hazard maps-

10

factors directly related to the creation of a flood. The map-factors used for the present study were:

11

the flow accumulation, the land use, the altitude, the slope, the soil erodibility, the rainfall intensity,

12

and the available water capacity. Using historical flood events and by combining the above

13

mentioned factors with ANN and GIS modeling approaches the final flood hazard map of Greece

14

was created. The ANN simulation performance was evaluated on the basis of various statistical

15

metrics, while the spatial reliability of the proposed methodology was verified by historical flood

16

events occurred the last 100 years. GIS results show that 24 % of the total area of Greece is under

17

very high flood hazard, while a very high percentage of artificial areas, about 37.22%, are under very

18

high flood hazard. In addition, based on the final flood hazard map 29.30% of the agricultural areas

19

are located in very high flood hazard regions. Specifically, in Greece 39.04% of the total arable,

20

8.99% of the total permanent, and 31.66% of the total pasture crops areas are under very high flood

21

hazard. Furthermore, regarding the Water Districts of Greece, the Water District of Attica appear to

22

have the highest percentage (33%) of very high flood hazard, followed by the Water District of West

23

Peloponnese with a percentage of 31%, while at the last position is the Water District of east

24

Macedonia with a percentage of 11%. Based on these findings and taking into consideration that

25

Greece probably will be strongly affected by the climate change, this study investigates and suggests

26

flood protection and adaptation approaches for rural and urban sectors minimizing the

27

consequence of flood damages under different human activities and climate change conditions.

28

Specifically, an overview of flood protection measures for very high flood hazard areas located in

29

low, semi-mountainous and mountainous regions was presented. Moreover, this study highlights

30

the importance of the agricultural sector to mitigate flooding: a) at downstream urban regions by

31

making space for flood water at intermediate agricultural areas, b) by switching to economic

1

beneficial crops that are more tolerant to flooding, and c) by relocating the production to low flood

2

hazard areas by displacing less valuable crops or taking up unused land. All these adaptation policy

3

approaches can be incorporated into a national scale flood decision support system, ensuring

4

the sustainability of agriculture and the protection of civilians.

5

6

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LIST OF FIGURES

46

Figure 1. a) Water Districts of Greece, b) Spatial distribution of flood events as expressed by

47

number of events per 100 km2 in each prefecture, c) Meteorological stations used in this study.

1

Figure 2. Flow chart of the proposed methodology.

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Figure 3a. Flood hazard maps for factors: Flow accumulation, Land use, Altitude, and Slope.

Figure 3b. Flood hazard maps for factors: soil Erodibility, Rainfall intensity, available water

Capacity.

Figure 4. a) Very High and High flood hazard areas for Greece, b) Validation process of the selected

flood hazard interpolation map (Spline method) with historical flooded points.

Figure 5. Final flood hazard map for Greece.

LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Categorization of the factors affecting flood hazard areas on Greece.

Factors

Domain of effect

flood Hazard Level (HL) Descriptive form

flood Hazard Level (HL) Numeric values

 

713750 - 1074824

Very High

5

(F)

377867

- 713750

High

4

Flow accumulation

151147

- 377867

Moderate

3

(pixels)

41985 - 151147

Low

2

0 - 41985

Very Low

1

 

Urban & bare area Scrub, herbaceous, annual crops, Permanent crops, Fruit trees Agro-forestry areas, Pastures Mixed forest

Very High

5

(L)

Land use

High

Moderate

4

3

Low

2

Very Low

1

 

0

- 263

Very High

5

(A)

263

- 547

High

4

Altitude

547

- 930

Moderate

3

(m)

930 - 1.465

Low

2

1.465

- 2.458

Very Low

1

(S)

Slope

(degree)

0

- 7.56

7.56 - 14.83

14.83

- 23.00

Very High

High

Moderate

5

4

3

23.00

- 33.28

Low

2

33.28

- 77.16

Very Low

1

 

Very Strong

Very High

5

(E)

soil Erodibility

Strong

Moderate

High

Moderate

4

3

Weak

Low

2

 

Very Weak

Very Low

1

 

137

- 800

Very High

5

(R)

106

- 137

High

4

Rainfall intensity

(MFI units)

79 - 106 65 - 79

Moderate

Low

3

2

0 - 65

Very Low

1

(C)

available water Capacity

(mm/m)

~ 0

<100

100-140

Very High

High

Moderate

5

4

3

140-190

Low

2

>190

Very Low

1

13

14

15

Table 2. Validation of the final flood hazard map based on different interpolation methods

Interpolation method

Number of historical flooded points located at Very High flood hazard zone

Number of historical flooded points located at High flood hazard zone

Total Error (%)

IDW

491 of 510 points

81 of 90 points

4.66

Spline

502 of 510 points

85 of 90 points

2.17

1

Kriging

482 of 510 points

77 of 90 points

6.83

Table 3. Flood hazard areas and the corresponding percentages both for the whole area of Greece and for each Water District area.

flood Hazard

Area (Km 2 )

 

Water District

Area (Km 2 )

 

Water District

Area (Km 2 )

 

Water District

Area (Km 2 )

 

Water District

Area (Km 2 )

 

Level

in Greece

%

(GR1)- West

%

(GR2)- North

%

(GR3)- East

%

(GR4)- West

%

Peloponnese

Peloponnese

Peloponnese

Central Greece

 

-flood hazard-

-flood hazard-

-flood hazard-

-flood hazard-

very low

26247

20

very low

1096

15

very low

1358

19

very low

969

12

very low

4018

39

low

27796

21

low

1485

21

low

1498

21

low

2014

24

low

2203

21

moderate

26203

20

moderate

1210

17

moderate

1443

20

moderate

2164

26

moderate

1323

13

high

19785

15

high

1162

16

high

1257

17

high

1570

19

high

941

9

very high

31040

24

very high

2228

31

very high

1714

24

very high

1606

19

very high

1916

18

   

Water District

 

Water District

Water District

(GR5)- Epirus

-Flood hazard-

Area (Km 2 )

%

Water District

(GR6)- Attica

-flood hazard-

Area (Km 2 )

%

(GR7)- East

Central Greece

-flood hazard-

Area (Km 2 )

%

Water District

(GR8)- Thessaly

-flood hazard-

Area (Km 2 )

%

(GR9)- West

Macedonia

-flood hazard-

Area (Km 2 )

%

very low

2442

25

very low

321

10

very low

2316

19

very low

2461

19

very low

4572

34

low

2161

22

low

566

18

low

2536

21

low

2344

18

low

3631

27

moderate

1438

15

moderate

692

22

moderate

2508

21

moderate

2802

21

moderate

2407

18

high

1193

12

High

514

17

high

1904

16

high

1984

15

high

1436

11

very high

2675