Impact-based probabilistic modeling of hydro-morphological processes in China (1985–2015)

Nan Wang, Weiming Cheng, Hongyan Zhang*, Cees van Westen, Junnan Xiong, Changjun Liu, Luigi Lombardo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Hydro-morphological processes (HMP, any natural phenomenon contained within the spectrum defined between debris flows and flash floods) pose a relevant threat to infrastructure, urban and rural settlements and to lives in general. This has been widely observed in recent years and will likely become worse as climate change will influence the spatio-temporal pattern of precipitation events. The modelling of where HMP-driven hazards may occur can help define the appropriate course of actions before and during a crisis, reducing the potential losses that HMPs cause in their wake. However, the probabilistic information on locations prone to experience a given hazard is not sufficient to depict the risk our society may incur. To cover this aspect, modeling the loss information could open up to better territorial management strategies. In this work, we made use of the HMP catalogue of China from 1985 to 2015. Specifically, we implemented the Light Gradient Boosting (LGB) classifier to model the impact level that locations across China have suffered from HMPs over the thirty-year record. We obtained six impact levels as a combination of financial and life losses, whose classes we used as separate target variables for our LGB. In doing so, we estimated spatial probabilities of certain HMP impact, something that has yet to be tested in the natural hazard community, especially over such a large spatial domain. The results we obtained are encouraging, with each of the six impact categories being separately classified with excellent to outstanding performance (the worst case corresponds to a mean AUC = 0.862, whereas the best case corresponds to a mean AUC of 0.915). The good predictive performance our model produced suggest that the cartographic output could be useful to inform authorities of locations prone to human and infrastructural losses of specific magnitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118463
JournalJournal of environmental management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2023


  • China
  • Hazard impact
  • Hydro-morphological processes
  • Susceptibility modeling


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