Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)


Civil Engineering

Committee Chair

David J., Yu

Committee Member 1

P. Suresh Rao

Committee Member 2

Venkatesh Merwade


Human societies typically depend on hard engineering infrastructure such as dams and levees to protect themselves from floods. However, in this era of global change, this conventional approach is being increasingly challenged for its lack of adaptiveness. A growing number of studies suggest that an alternative strategy of flood control is needed to build long-term flood resilience. This study tackles this challenge by developing a conceptual model of the interplay between flood control strategies and long-term human-flood interaction. Our model development is motivated by a case of community-based flood protection system in coastal Bangladesh. We used the model to examine the effects of several archetypal flood control strategies (adaptive and non-adaptive ones) on the model community’s capacity to cope with hydrological variability, particularly the dynamics of this capacity under the external disturbances of sea level rise, tidal water level, and outside economic opportunities. The model results reveal vulnerabilities of conventional flood control strategies to the disturbances, and some of the ways how such vulnerabilities may emerge. The results also underscore the importance of adaptive strategies that dynamically mediate the feedback between social and hydrologic processes. These findings suggest that resilience-based, adaptive strategies can help build flood resilience under global change.