Abstract

Recent literature in sociohydrology has shown the important role of flood memory in shaping hydrological risk. In this paper, we present a system dynamics model of human–flood interactions that simulates how the river proximity of human settlements is altered by changes in flood memory. We also compare our model outcomes with an unprecedented dataset consisting of historical and archeological observations of human settlements in Czech Republic that have been affected by major flood events. This comparison allows us to evaluate the potentials and limitations of our sociohydrological model in capturing essential features of flood risk changes, including the process of resettling farther and closer to the river. Our results show that the accumulation (and decay) of collective memory has potential in explaining temporal changes of flood risk driven by the occurrence (or absence) of major events. As such, this study contributes to advancing knowledge about the complex dynamics of human–water systems, while providing useful insights in the field of flood risk reduction.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • We explore how flood memory shapes human settlements and their proximity to rivers.

  • We develop a system dynamics model of human–flood interactions that simulates how the river proximity of settlements is altered by changes in flood memory.

  • We validate the model using a dataset of settlements location spanning eight centuries.

  • Relocation of a community is effective in flood risk mitigation if flood memory is sustained in time.

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