Modeling Pakistan's flooding

But read on to the end to find out what US government agency is doing the research. Your tax dollars at work.

Caption: Residents flee the rising floodwaters in Pakistan. Credit: Cornell University

A fact sheet on DSS-WISE

The catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, which began with the annual monsoons towards the end of July 2010, has affected nearly 62,000 square miles — or one fourth of the entire surface of the USA and Alaska. Six million are homeless. Eight million children are at risk of disease. More than 1,600 are dead already. Flood waters have washed away entire towns, thousands of miles of roads and railways, and damaged the infrastructure of a large portion of the country. Thousands of health facilities are destroyed and rising waters have inundated crop-producing areas, threatening a food crisis. The Pakistani government now struggles to rescue and provide aid to millions – while still fighting with militant Islamist forces in many of the hardest-hit regions.

To help Pakistani authorities cope, a new Dept of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate computer model is being used by hydraulic engineers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) and forwarded to their counterparts in Pakistan. Under S&T’s Infrastructure and Geophysical Division the new computer model simulates the flooding, estimates the total drawdown of the floodwaters, and predicts how long it will take the waters to recede. DSS-WISE (Decision Support System – Water Infrastructure Security) incorporates and integrates thousands of data points – from historical, geographical, economical, and satellite info – and paints a current picture and prediction scenario to help with Pakistan’s disaster efforts.

The flooding scenarios are set up with a GIS (geographic information system)-based user-friendly pre-processor. DSS-WISE provides two-dimensional accurate predictive maps of flood arrival times, flood depths and velocities for the specified scenarios. The results provided by the numerical model (CCHE2D-FLOOD) can be directly imported onto a GIS environment to be displayed as maps and overlaid on various types of satellite imagery and background maps.

Flood simulations carried out by ERDC-CHL cover very large areas and the simulation times are relatively long (more than a month). The simulations are aimed not only for the propagation of the flood during the rising period but also for predicting the time required for the flood waters to recede. That is where the extremely robust algorithms implemented in DSS-WISE, which take into account wetting and drying, prove their worth.

The model was developed for S&T by researchers at the National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering (NCCHE) at The University of Mississippi (UM). The model is the product of a research project of the Southeast Region Research Initiative (SERRI), a program funded by the DHS S&T. S&T’s Mike Matthews is the program manager. The feedback given to S&T by the ERDC-CHL personnel while using the DSS-WISE software is extremely valuable to the NCCHE-UM researchers (http://www.ncche.olemiss.edu/) who are preparing for the next phase of model development through sponsorship from SERRI (http://www.serri.org).

Pakistan’s flood disaster has given a demanding workout to the DSS-WISE software,” says Matthews, ” but, it has proven it can provide accurate and timely predictions even under very challenging modeling requirements.”

###

The Program Manager for DSS-WISE is DHS S&T’s Mike Matthews: ‘Mike.Matthews@dhs.gov

Any media inquiries should be directed to:

John Verrico: john.verrico@dhs.gov 202 254 2385

US Department of Homeland Security – Science and Technology

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53 thoughts on “Modeling Pakistan's flooding

  1. “The catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, which began with the annual monsoons towards the end of July 2010, has affected nearly 62,000 square miles — or one fourth of the entire surface of the USA and Alaska.”
    If that’s a fact sheet i don’t want to see the errata sheet. But let’s look up the numbers in the CIA world fact book:
    Geography ::Pakistan
    Area:
    total: 796,095 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 36
    land: 770,875 sq km
    water: 25,220 sq km
    Area – comparative:
    slightly less than twice the size of California
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pk.html

  2. How can 62,000 sq. mi. equal 1/4 of 3,790,000 sq. mi. (The approx. area of the US.)? I hope the modelers’ math is better than the press release writer’s.

  3. Well, 62,000 sq.m. is a lot of area, but just around 1.5 per cent of the area of the United States, not one fourth as stated in the text.

  4. computer model is being used by hydraulic engineers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
    Is that the same Corps of Engineers that did such a great job in New Orleans?
    Phew that’s a relief… now I can ignore the weather forecast, put away my contour map and forget that flood plains have a nasty habit of flooding when the monsoons arrive… Thanks Be to another computer model….

  5. From the article: “The catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, which began with the annual monsoons towards the end of July 2010, has affected nearly 62,000 square miles — or one fourth of the entire surface of the USA and Alaska.”
    The land area of the USA is 3.7 million square miles. 62,000 sq miles of flooding is NOT one fourth of the entire surface of the USA (which includes our 49th state, Alaska). It is less than 2% of the land area of the US. This report exaggerates by more than a factor of 10.

  6. “…62,000 square miles — or one fourth of the entire surface of the USA and Alaska.”
    Looks like the US have shrunk considerably…
    They must have missed a few geography lessons.

  7. 62000 Square Miles is a quarter the size of the USA, including Alaska? If I remember my 5th Grade Geography correctly, 62000 Square Miles would be a little more than a 10th of Alaska alone. I wonder if they got those numbers from the IPCC.

  8. “has affected nearly 62,000 square miles — or one fourth of the entire surface of the USA and Alaska”
    I didn’t know the USA had shrunk so much. Last I checked is was still about 3.8 million sq miles. NOT 240,000. That is way beyond a typo….

  9. You have got to be kidding me.
    My tax dollars? Modeling floods in Pakistan?
    Are there no problems in the United States?
    Are there no Red River floods to worry about?
    Are there no floods in the southeast to worry about?
    This is the same Department which cannot come to a decision about deporting the recently revealed illegal immigrant nanny of Meg Whitman.
    Are illegal immigrants legal?
    Or are they illegal?
    In order to avoid the questions, spend your time (and our tax dollars) modeling floods in Pakistan.
    Where do I go to object?

  10. “nearly 62,000 square miles — or one fourth of the entire surface of the USA and Alaska. ”
    Either that is a misprint, the USA is a lot smaller than I have been led to believe, or, somebodys’ Abacus is missing a few beads.

  11. A computer program is on it’s way, a great relief to all the suffering.
    Shades of Mother Theresa

  12. I am genuinely concerned about the effect of flooding in
    ¨… Pakistan, which began with the ANNUAL monsoons towards the end of July 2010, has affected nearly 62,000 square miles
    — or – EQUAL TO – one fourth of the entire surface of the USA and Alaska.
    ¿¨…AND ALASKA.¨? Who studies geography?
    Six million are homeless.
    Eight million children – AND EVERY LIVING THING – are at risk of disease.
    A great press release. ¿Was this information and assistance available before June? ¿Is there any other part of the Earth which could similarly benefit?

  13. Just one word describes the essence of the proclamations made by the U.S. Government agency responsible for that line of ~complete~ BS: HYPE.
    And then they wonder why we constantly berate, deride, and denigrate them …

  14. The models being used for this were developed for US flooding disasters after Katrina and are used for problems here. These models were already available and being used over a year ago.
    I’m not sure why the bit about our tax dollars are work is so controversial. Using models already developed to help out an ally (however reliable or not) seems like a good use of our resources, not a bad use.

  15. Someone must have used the “Nature trick” to hide 98% of the US surface area. It seems a bit much to have to create a model of how a flooded river basin is going to empty-down. A slide rule sufficed for the 1950 Red River (of the north) flood and the predictions were pretty accurate.

  16. Of what possible value is being able to predict flooding catastrophe when Pakistan has no intention of proactively mitigating flood damage?
    I wonder how many brand-new shiny nuclear warheads Pakistan has these days? How many miles of flood levy could have been built for the cost of each of those warheads? Why is Pakistan building nuclear warheads instead of flood levies?
    Because Pakistan is just another corrupt, failed nation of disparate people ( the tribes suffering the flooding are not the ruling tribe in Pakistan).
    Pakistani officials have recently decided to stop a NATO convoy bringing supplies to Afghanistan and preventing it from crossing the border.
    When a convoy is stopped, it is a sitting duck.
    Since then, much of the convoy has been destroyed by Pakistani terrorists, with many deaths.
    Why is the US spending any money or effort aiding Pakistan with their flood troubles when that country won’t really utilize it anyway?
    Pakistan is NOT our ally. The US is really screwing the pooch over there.

  17. I have worked with these kind of models and planning tools in my previous professional incarnation. They can and I suspect this one can, do the job. I don’t think it should come as any surprise where the system was developed or who is in charge of the work. I would hope the best tools, no matter who developed them or who paid for that development, would be used in any situation of this magnitude. If some agency can garner any favorable publicity, good for them. Isn’t that what press releases are for?

  18. I remember when I was a kid, late 50s or the 60s that the ganges every few years used to prune the population there, has allah moved the floods north with that section of the people? (sarc off) so nothing new here since the 50s to my memory then.

  19. “But read on to the end to find out what US government agency is doing the research. Your tax dollars at work.”
    Not mine, fortunately. But for once the DOHS is doing something constructive which will help people whilst indirectly assisting the fight against militants in the area, who will view this as a key recruiting opportunity. Let’s not knock them too much, even if their figures are wonky again.

  20. Malaga View
    October 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm
    “Is that the same Corps of Engineers that did such a great job in New Orleans?”
    I guess you’ve been drinking the socialist kool-aid. The USACE had been screaming for over FORTY years that a disaster was on the way. But the demoncrats are more interested in playing house then fixing problems. New Orleans’ shoddy corrupt government is responsible for what happened to New Orleans and no one else.

  21. Wait… didn’t the former space agency “NASA” make a similar mistake wound up ramming a probe into Mars a while back?

  22. The floods in Pakistan are a regular event.
    from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_floods#Pakistan
    In 2003, Sindh province was bading affected due to monsoon rains causing damages in billions.
    In 2007, Cyclone Yemyin submerged lower part of Balochistan Province in sea water killing 380 people. Before that it killed 213 people in Karachi on its way to Balochistan.
    In 2009, Karachi was flooded. (see 2009 Karachi floods)
    In 2010, from Mid-July till Mid-August – Pakistan’s four provinces (Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Southern Punjab and Sindh) were badly affected during the monsoon rains when dams, rivers and lakes overflowed killing atleast 1,750-2,000 people,injuring 2,500 and affecting 23 million people. The flood is considered as worst in Pakistan’s history affecting people of all four provinces and Azad Jamu and Kashmir Region of Pakistan.[6] (see 2010 Pakistan floods)

  23. Where do I go to object?
    In you case I am not sure where you should go. But when you should go is Nov. 2.

  24. I am waiting a reply on the promise of my health insurance premium going down 3000% and now I have to deal with this math. It gives me a headache. If they are pulling km2 figures out of the air, I think much of the reports are also in great error.

  25. Boy are the Pakistani’s going to be pissed when the computer models tell them that when they get to high ground, they cannot build fires to warm themselves since the CO2 will make the flood waters rise even faster.

  26. Is the 20%+ of Pakistan under water counted as land? If not, that would make the algebra even worse.

  27. You would think that some people would get a clue.
    Here’s the ORIGINAL source, which has been rephrased all over the WWW;
    http://www.engineering.olemiss.edu/news/newsdesk/NCCHE-Pakistan/Flood_Disaster_Modeling_fact_sheet_R1.pdf
    You would think that those regurgitating this all over the WWW would try to link to the correct source material;
    “The catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, which began with the annual monsoons toward the end of July 2010, has affected nearly 62,000 square miles—equivalent to one-fourth of the entire surface of the USA and Alaska.”
    So, who may I ask decided to leave off the “equivalent to” and replace it with “or” anyway?
    The gullability of some people. REALLY? REALLY!
    It wasn’t DHS or ERDC or Ole Miss, that’s for sure.

  28. Reading the comments for this post was the most fun I’ve had here.
    This is the WRONG blog to post something so egregiously wrong as “62,000 square miles — or one fourth of the entire surface of the USA and Alaska.” ROFL.
    My state of Illinois is 57,918 sq miles.
    If we are each almost 25% of the size of the U.S. I in particular think we are not getting our fair share of government money. It must all be going to Michael Mann. Damn that Mann, anyway! I’ve heard he is a helluva fund raiser, but we want some, too!

  29. It’s true that using “or” where the original used “equivalent to” might mislead someone who didn’t know that Pakistan is not part of the United States. Except for this point of geography, the two expressions convey the same fact, which is mathematical. It doesn’t appear to me that any of the gullible contributors to this blog blundered with respect to the geography.
    That said, I do wish that people who are quoting something would do so verbatim or indicate clearly when they have decided to paraphrase a few words. In this case, it wouldn’t have been worth the trouble.

  30. old44 says:
    October 8, 2010 at 3:18 pm
    “Poor old Hawaii, left out, again.”
    I noticed that too, but I was more concernd about the other 56 states President Obama mentioned.

  31. Be kind! Let’s hope that this and every other form of assistance is actually helping some people in need and not just feathering someone’s university, COE, and/or political nest (both here and in Pakistan).

  32. You could fit 62,000 square miles of flood into New Hampshire and Vermont and still have plenty of dry land for boat launches, motels and fishing off the banks. What a bunch of maroons.

  33. “The catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, which began with the annual monsoons towards the end of July 2010, has affected nearly 62,000 square miles — or one fourth of the entire surface of the USA and Alaska.”
    You know that the state of science education is reaching a low in this country when a “fact sheet” starts out like this…

  34. These floods were the Worst Floods For 80 Years! not the worst ever. What caused the floods 80 years ago? The Indus river has created a massive flood plain which floods unfortunately.

  35. Dear Bloggers,
    For those who caught the egregious error regarding the extent of the flooding, thank you! So much for trusting any figures printed, even those given by reputable sources. We’ve pulled the posting, and will try to run down those who passed the error on. Thanks again.

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