‘HiFlo-DAT’: a historical flood database for the Kullu District - 1846 to present’

Johnson, R.M (2022) ‘HiFlo-DAT’: a historical flood database for the Kullu District - 1846 to present’. In: International Conference on Extreme Weather Events under Changing Climate, 10 - 11 March 2022, Kullu, India [online].


‘HiFlo-DAT’ is a bi-lateral (India and UK) research project funded 2018-2021 by the UGC-UKIERI (University Grants Commission & UK India Education and Research Initiative), focusing on historical floods in the Kullu District (Manali and Kullu Tehsil’s), Himachal Pradesh, Indian Himalaya. The project team, comprising academic and state/district disaster management authorities, have generated a new historical flood hazard database as a foundation for improved disaster risk management functions in the region; it details 128 floods in the period 1846-2020 (175 years). This is necessary as current management relies on incomplete knowledge of past flood event occurrence, bringing elevated exposure/ risk to development. The ‘HiFlo-DAT’ database provides a step-change, drawing on extensive mining of archive materials held in private and public collections in India, UK and USA. These materials include newspapers, government reports/ registers, diaries, books, academic articles etc. Most extensive are English-language Indian regional newspapers, of which we have amassed overlapping holdings over 186 years (1835 to 2020), totalling c. 150,000 pages. Our acquisition includes coverage of annual periods where publications are digitally searchable (e.g. The Tribune, The Times of India, and The Indian Express). In contrast, where archives remained in an analogue microfilm format during the project data collection period (e.g. The Civil and Military Gazette, The Friend of India) we restricted data searches to monsoon season months (i.e. July to September) given this is the typical window for floods in the Western Himalaya. The ‘HiFlo-DAT’ database architecture takes account of best practice, having systematically reviewed global flood database research in the last c. 30 years, in regard to database structure, data entry/verification protocols, analytical foci and societal impact. ‘HiFlo-DAT’ has 95 possible entry categories for each event record, which are aggregated into 11 groups (i.e. database management, citation information, timing/ duration, location, causation and hydro-meteorological magnitude, channel/ catchment geomorphological impacts, damage/ destruction/ costs, human casualties, pre-event actions, event response, post-event actions). The bi-lateral review of source materials and population of the database were governed by an agreed set of protocols to ensure robust and consistent practice. Continuing analyses are focussing on event spatial-temporal signatures, flood impacts and the relationship between flood occurrence and rainfall conditions. The latter makes use of a unique long-term daily rainfall series for Naggar Farm, compiled from British government records (1891-1950) and current IARI (Indian Agricultural Research Institute) data (1962 to present). Interim analyses reveal: (1) Flood spatial extents ranging from tributary to valley-wide scales (Beas and Parbati Rivers) (2) Hotspot tributary locations with a high frequency of flood recurrence, and sometimes high magnitude impacts (e.g. Phojal Nalla, Bajaura Khad) (3) Recorded floods in 17 of 19 decades from 1840 to 2020 (4) Flood-rich decades (1890-1909; 1990-2019), and particular flood-prevalent years (1894, 2018) (5) Dominance of flood occurrence in monsoon months (87%, particularly July and August) (6) Highly variable and complex rainfall signatures, in which 1894 is a standout year; and 44±11% of annual rainfall is recorded in the monsoon season. ‘HiFlo-DAT’ is designed with capacity for future updating, comparison to flood chronologies derived from other data source types, and will be open access via the BathSPAdata repository and HPSDMA (Himachal Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority) website in due course.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
UN SDGs: Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Goal 15: Life on Land
Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Divisions: School of Sciences
Research Centres and Groups: Hazard, Risk and Disaster Research Group
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2022 15:49
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 16:06
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/15048
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