System robustness analysis in support of flood and drought risk management

Marjolein J.P. Mens

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

9 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


Floods and droughts have an increasing impact on societies worldwide. It is unlikely that the provision of flood protection infrastructure and reservoirs will eliminate this problem, especially as extreme events are expected to increase in probability and magnitude as a result of climate change. For this reason, the focus of water management has shifted to a risk-based approach in recent years; but this also has its limitations. This thesis develops system robustness as a new perspective on flood and drought risk management. The concept of robustness is familiar from other areas such as engineering and biology. Robustness characterizes systems that are able to remain functioning even when some components fail. Areas prone to flooding or drought can be understood as systems, which remain functioning when impacts from extreme floods and droughts are limited. In this thesis, the concept of system robustness is made operational by proposing quantifiable criteria. These criteria were tested in two flood cases and two drought cases, which demonstrated the applicability of the framework and provided insight into the system characteristics that influence system robustness. Furthermore, the case studies demonstrated that assessing system robustness may change the preference ordering of management strategies. The thesis aims to contribute to decision-making in flood and drought risk management by providing an additional decision criterion. Quantifying system robustness inspires the development of strategies that reduce flood and drought risk in a way that disasters are avoided.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • van Beek, E., Supervisor
  • Klijn, F., Co-Supervisor, External person
  • van der Sluijs, Jeroen P., Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date29 Jan 2015
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-1-61499-481-7
Electronic ISBNs978-1-61499-482-4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2015


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