3.4 Reducing Spring Flood Impacts for the Wellbeing of Communities in Alaska and Siberia

Monday, 23 January 2017: 4:45 PM
Conference Center: Yakima 2 (Washington State Convention Center )
Edward W. Plumb, NOAA/NWS, Fairbanks, AK; and Y. Y. Kontar

In Alaska and Siberia, spring is known as a flood season. Spring can bring rapid warming that forces river ice to break up quickly and pile up in tremendous jams at narrow and curved points of the streams, flooding nearby settlements. Alaskans and Siberians are prepared for the occurrence of ice jams, but not for the severity of their consequences. Significant government funds are spent on challenging annual disaster response and recovery efforts that might be avoided through improved understanding of the problem. In addition to the financial losses, there are the societal and ecosystem impacts.

In May 2013 a series of severe ice breakup floods ravaged multiple rural communities on the Yukon River, AK and Lena River, Russia. The most damaging floods took place in the village of Galena in central Alaska and the village of Edeytsy in Yakutia, Russia. Both communities suffered severe socioeconomic impacts, including near complete destruction of the entire infrastructure and public property, long-term evacuation and relocation of population, and loss of means of livelihood. As part of the 2016 U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program, a bilateral and interdisciplinary team was assembled with the goal to outline best practices in community flood preparedness, breakup monitoring, ice jam flood forecasting and mitigation, and disaster response and recovery. In addition to participating in roundtable discussions in Russia and the U.S. with emergency managers, scientists, and policymakers, the team conducted interdisciplinary and community-based participatory research in Edeytsy in November 2015 and Galena in March 2016.

This presentation we will discuss the results and exchange of best practices shared between the U.S. and Russia in managing the short and long term impacts of annual spring flooding in communities in Alaska and Siberia.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner