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Article

Climatology of Flooding in the United States  

Gabriele Villarini and Louise Slater

Flood losses in the United States have increased dramatically over the course of the past century, averaging US$7.96 billion in damages per year for the 30-year period ranging from 1985 to 2014. In terms of human fatalities, floods are the second largest weather-related hazard in the United States, causing approximately 80 deaths per year over the same period. Given the wide-reaching impacts of flooding across the United States, the evaluation of flood-generating mechanisms and of the drivers of changing flood hazard are two areas of active research. Flood frequency analysis has traditionally been based on statistical analyses of the observed flood distributions that rarely distinguish among physical flood-generating processes. However, recent scientific advances have shown that flood frequency distributions are often characterized by “mixed populations” arising from multiple flood-generating mechanisms, which can be challenging to disentangle. Flood events can be driven by a variety of physical mechanisms, including rain and snowmelt, frontal systems, monsoons, intense tropical cyclones, and more generic cyclonic storms. Temporal changes in the frequency and magnitude of flooding have also been the subject of a large body of work in recent decades. The science has moved from a focus on the detection of trends and shifts in flood peak distributions towards the attribution of these changes, with particular emphasis on climatic and anthropogenic factors, including urbanization and changes in agricultural practices. A better understanding of these temporal changes in flood peak distributions, as well as of the physical flood-generating mechanisms, will enable us to move forward with the estimation of future flood design values in the context of both climatic and anthropogenic change.

Article

Persistent Homology for Land Cover Change Detection  

Djamel Bouchaffra and Faycal Ykhlef

The need for environmental protection, monitoring, and security is increasing, and land cover change detection (LCCD) can aid in the valuation of burned areas, the study of shifting cultivation, the monitoring of pollution, the assessment of deforestation, and the analysis of desertification, urban growth, and climate change. Because of the imminent need and the availability of data repositories, numerous mathematical models have been devised for change detection. Given a sample of remotely sensed images from the same region acquired at different dates, the models investigate if a region has undergone change. Even if there is no substantial advantage to using pixel-based classification over object-based classification, a pixel-based change detection approach is often adopted. A pixel can encompass a large region, and it is imperative to determine whether this pixel (input) has changed or not. A changed image is compared to the available ground truth image for pixel-based performance evaluation. Some existing change detection systems do not take into account reversible changes due to seasonal weather effects. In other words, when snow falls in a region, the land cover is not considered as a change because it is seasonal (reversible). Some approaches exploit time series of Landsat images, which are based on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index technique. Others evaluate built-up expansion to assess urban morphology changes using an unsupervised approach that relies on labels clustering. Change detection methods have also been applied to the field of disaster management using object-oriented image classification. Some methodologies are based on spectral mixture analysis. Other techniques invoke a similarity measure based on the evolution of the local statistics of the image between two dates for vegetation LCCD. Probabilistic approaches based on maximum entropy have been applied to vegetation and forest areas, such as Hustai National Park in Mongolia. Researchers in this field have proposed an LCCD scheme based on a feed-forward neural network using backpropagation for training. This paper invokes the new concept of homology theory, a subfield of algebraic topology. Homology theory is incorporated within a Structural Hidden Markov Model.