Articles | Volume 13, issue 2
Research article
18 Feb 2013
Research article |  | 18 Feb 2013

Dynamic decision making for dam-break emergency management – Part 1: Theoretical framework

M. Peng and L. M. Zhang

Abstract. An evacuation decision for dam breaks is a very serious issue. A late decision may lead to loss of lives and properties, but a very early evacuation will incur unnecessary expenses. This paper presents a risk-based framework of dynamic decision making for dam-break emergency management (DYDEM). The dam-break emergency management in both time scale and space scale is introduced first to define the dynamic decision problem. The probability of dam failure is taken as a stochastic process and estimated using a time-series analysis method. The flood consequences are taken as functions of warning time and evaluated with a human risk analysis model (HURAM) based on Bayesian networks. A decision criterion is suggested to decide whether to evacuate the population at risk (PAR) or to delay the decision. The optimum time for evacuating the PAR is obtained by minimizing the expected total loss, which integrates the time-related probabilities and flood consequences. When a delayed decision is chosen, the decision making can be updated with available new information. A specific dam-break case study is presented in a companion paper to illustrate the application of this framework to complex dam-breaching problems.