AAG Conference: Hazards

Partners for Action (P4A) recently participated in the American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting from April 10th to 14th, 2018. The conference attracted leading scholars, scientists, experts, researchers, and students to New Orleans, Louisiana, to share emerging research and to partake in discussions on a variety of pressing environmental topics.

speaker presenting research at the front of a roomOne of the key themes of this year’s conference was: Hazards, Geography, and GIScience. With the increasing number of vulnerable populations and the implications of climate change presenting complex challenges across the globe, the AAG Council and Executive Director identified hazards as a key area in which facilitated discussion and collaboration is needed. The importance and relevance of hazards research is also highlighted from the several large-scale disaster events that took place in 2017 alone. 

The conference featured over 6,000 presentations, posters, and workshops, many of which brought forward issues related to flooding. Flood themes included, but were not limited to:

  • Emergency responses to flooding during hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma
  • Flood risk reduction through spatio-temporal modelling
  • Flood risk reduction through combinations of structural and non-structural measures
  • Communicating preparedness for hazards in coastal communities
  • Early warning systems
  • Risk communication and public attention to extreme weather information on social media
  • Communicating hurricane risk with virtual reality
  • Flood risk simulations
  • Infrastructure vulnerability and exposure to sea level rise and storm surge flooding

This was also the first year that the conference returned to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area back in 2005. Conference field trips allowed participants to further explore the impacts of Katrina on the region, including remnants of the disaster that can still be seen today, as well as how the area has recovered and implemented additional flood mitigation measures, such as rebuilding homes on stilts. With the majority of New Orleans laying several feet below sea level, flood risk and vulnerability continue to be a major challenge facing the city. 

house built on stilts

Overall, this year’s AAG conference approached the issues and challenges presented by hazards from multiple perspectives, and shared research and tools associated with geography and GIScience to help participants and attendees learn from past disaster events and plan more effectively for future events.