River basin-scale flood hazard assessment using a modified multi-criteria decision analysis approach: A case study

Amirhossein Shadmehri Toosi, Giancarlo Humberto Calbimonte, Hamideh Nouri, Sina Alaghmand*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Flood is a major natural hazard with extremely large impact on social-ecological systems. Therefore, developing reliable and efficient tools to identify areas vulnerable to potential flooding is vital for water managers, engineers and decision makers. Moreover, being able to accurately classify the level of hazard is a step forward towards more efficient flood hazard mapping. This study presents a multi-criteria index approach to classify potential flood hazards at the river basin scale. The presented methodology was implemented in the Mashhad Plain basin in North-east Iran, where flood has been a major issue in the last few decades. In the present study, seven factors, selected based on their greater influence towards flooding, were identified and extracted from the basic thematic layers to be used to generate a five-class Flood Hazard Index (FHI) map. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was used to develop a runoff coefficient map, which was found to be the most influential factor. A sensitivity analysis was performed and the results incorporated to generate a modified Flood Hazard Index (mFHI) map. The accuracy of the proposed method was evaluated against the well-documented flood records in the last 42 years at the study area. The results showed that, for both FHI and mFHI maps, more than 97% of historical flood events have occurred in moderate to very high flood hazard areas. This demonstrates that incorporating hydrological model (such as SWAT) and multi-criteria analysis introduces a robust methodology to generate comprehensive potential flood hazard maps. Moreover, the proposed modified methodology can be used to identify high potential flood hazard zones and work towards more efficient flood management and mitigation strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-671
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of hydrology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Analytical hierarchy process
  • Flood hazard mapping
  • GIS application
  • River basin management
  • SWAT


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