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Volume 22, issue 2 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1473-1489, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Review article 28 Feb 2018

Review article | 28 Feb 2018

Citizen observations contributing to flood modelling: opportunities and challenges

Thaine H. Assumpção1, Ioana Popescu1, Andreja Jonoski1, and Dimitri P. Solomatine1,2 Thaine H. Assumpção et al.
  • 1Integrated Water Systems and Governance, IHE Delft, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 2Water Resources Section, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands

Abstract. Citizen contributions to science have been successfully implemented in many fields, and water resources is one of them. Through citizens, it is possible to collect data and obtain a more integrated decision-making process. Specifically, data scarcity has always been an issue in flood modelling, which has been addressed in the last decades by remote sensing and is already being discussed in the citizen science context. With this in mind, this article aims to review the literature on the topic and analyse the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. The literature on monitoring, mapping and modelling, was evaluated according to the flood-related variable citizens contributed to. Pros and cons of the collection/analysis methods were summarised. Then, pertinent publications were mapped into the flood modelling cycle, considering how citizen data properties (spatial and temporal coverage, uncertainty and volume) are related to its integration into modelling. It was clear that the number of studies in the area is rising. There are positive experiences reported in collection and analysis methods, for instance with velocity and land cover, and also when modelling is concerned, for example by using social media mining. However, matching the data properties necessary for each part of the modelling cycle with citizen-generated data is still challenging. Nevertheless, the concept that citizen contributions can be used for simulation and forecasting is proved and further work lies in continuing to develop and improve not only methods for collection and analysis, but certainly for integration into models as well. Finally, in view of recent automated sensors and satellite technologies, it is through studies as the ones analysed in this article that the value of citizen contributions, complementing such technologies, is demonstrated.

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Short summary
Citizens can contribute to science by providing data, analysing them and as such contributing to decision-making processes. For example, citizens have collected water levels from gauges, which are important when simulating/forecasting floods, where data are usually scarce. This study reviewed such contributions and concluded that integration of citizen data may not be easy due to their spatio-temporal characteristics but that citizen data still proved valuable and can be used in flood modelling.
Citizens can contribute to science by providing data, analysing them and as such contributing to...