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Sustainable Cities and Society

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Flood Zones -- Modeling, Flood Risk management


Flooding occurs at different scales and unevenly affects urban populations based on the broader social, ecological, and technological system (SETS) characteristics particular to cities. As hydrological models improve in spatial scale and account for more mechanisms of flooding, there is a continuous need to examine the relationships between flood exposure and SETS drivers of flood vulnerability. In this study, we related fine-scale measures of future flood exposure—the First Street Foundation's Flood Factor and estimated change in chance of extreme flood exposure—to SETS indicators like building age, poverty, and historical redlining, at the parcel and census block group (CBG) scales in Portland, OR, Phoenix, AZ, Baltimore, MD, and Atlanta, GA. We used standard regression models and accounted for spatial bias in relationships. The results show that flood exposure was more often correlated with SETS variables at the parcel scale than at the CBG scale, indicating scale dependence. However, these relationships were often inconsistent among cities, indicating place-dependence. We found that marginalized populations were significantly more exposed to future flooding at the CBG scale. Combining newly-available, high-resolution future flood risk estimates with SETS data available at multiple scales offers cities a new set of tools to assess the exposure and multi-dimensional vulnerability of populations. These tools will better equip city managers to proactively plan and implement equitable interventions to meet evolving hazard exposure.


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