Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
17 Feb 2009
 | 17 Feb 2009

Improving risk assessment by defining consistent and reliable system scenarios

B. Mazzorana, J. Hübl, and S. Fuchs

Abstract. During the entire procedure of risk assessment for hydrologic hazards, the selection of consistent and reliable scenarios, constructed in a strictly systematic way, is fundamental for the quality and reproducibility of the results. However, subjective assumptions on relevant impact variables such as sediment transport intensity on the system loading side and weak point response mechanisms repeatedly cause biases in the results, and consequently affect transparency and required quality standards. Furthermore, the system response of mitigation measures to extreme event loadings represents another key variable in hazard assessment, as well as the integral risk management including intervention planning. Formative Scenario Analysis, as a supplement to conventional risk assessment methods, is a technique to construct well-defined sets of assumptions to gain insight into a specific case and the potential system behaviour. By two case studies, carried out (1) to analyse sediment transport dynamics in a torrent section equipped with control measures, and (2) to identify hazards induced by woody debris transport at hydraulic weak points, the applicability of the Formative Scenario Analysis technique is presented. It is argued that during scenario planning in general and with respect to integral risk management in particular, Formative Scenario Analysis allows for the development of reliable and reproducible scenarios in order to design more specifically an application framework for the sustainable assessment of natural hazards impact. The overall aim is to optimise the hazard mapping and zoning procedure by methodologically integrating quantitative and qualitative knowledge.