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India gets its first digital flood inventory; data to help manage future disasters

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The digitised inventory in modern geospatial format compiles data on deaths and damages caused by flooding events from 1985 to 2016.

India gets its first digital flood inventory; data to help manage future disasters
A group of experts has created India’s first digital flood inventory (IFI) in modern geospatial format, compiling data on deaths and damages caused by flooding events from 1985 to 2016.
The inventory will facilitate future data collection efforts and support future endeavours of disaster management personnel and scientists working on flood research and management, Mongabay-India reported.
About 89 percent of the data for the inventory has been taken from the India Meteorological Department’s Disastrous Weather Events, while the rest comes from Emergency Events Database and Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO), a paper on the inception of the inventory said.
“Each historical flooding event now has its information digitised, which IMD didn’t have till now,” IIT Delhi’s Manabendra Saharia, who led the team in creating the inventory, told Mongabay-India.
A latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the greenhouse effect is intensifying the water cycle, which will cause more rainfall and flooding in some regions. India requires early warning systems (EWS) to adapt to such disasters.
“Improved modelling and flood forecasting would help strengthen our flood early warning systems,” IMD scientist and co-author D.S. Pai said.
Each flooding event in the inventory is marked with a Unique Event Identifier. This helps in cross-referencing with other datasets. Dates were made compliant to the internationally accepted calendar-and-clock format ISO 8601.
The paper said a majority of floods in India occurred in the monsoon season, peaking in July. “The number of flood fatalities during the same period is 83 percent of the yearly total, with a peak in August,” the paper stated.
The highest number of floods and fatalities are recorded in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Assam and West Bengal. Uttarakhand, which has experienced catastrophic events, has the highest per capita death rates in the country.
The inventory also outlines three major flooding events in India -- the Brahmaputra floods in 1988 and 2004 and the Bihar flood in 1987.
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