A comparison of statistical methods and multi-criteria decision making to map flood hazard susceptibility in Northern Iran

Christian Conoscenti, Zahra Kalantari, Khalil Rezaei, Alireza Arabameri, Artemi Cerdà

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Citations (Scopus)


In north of Iran, flood is one of the most important natural hazards that annually inflict great economic damages on humankind infrastructures and natural ecosystems. The Kiasar watershed is known as one of the critical areas in north of Iran, due to numerous floods and waste of water and soil resources, as well as related economic and ecological losses. However, a comprehensive and systematic research to identify flood-prone areas, which may help to establish management and conservation measures, has not been carried out yet. Therefore, this study tested four methods: evidential belief function (EBF), frequency ratio (FR), Technique for Order Preference by Similarity To ideal Solution (TOPSIS) and Vlse Kriterijumsk Optimizacija Kompromisno Resenje (VIKOR) for flood hazard susceptibility mapping (FHSM) in this area. These were combined in two methodological frameworks involving statistical and multi-criteria decision making approaches. The efficiency of statistical and multi-criteria methods in FHSM were compared by using area under receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) curve, seed cell area index and frequency ratio. A database containing flood inventory maps and flood-related conditioning factors was established for this watershed. The flood inventory maps produced included 132 flood conditions, which were randomly classified into two groups, for training (70%) and validation (30%). Analytical hierarchy process (AHP) indicated that slope, distance to stream and land use/land cover are of key importance in flood occurrence in the study catchment. In validation results, the EBF model had a better prediction rate (0.987) and success rate (0.946) than FR, TOPSIS and VIKOR (prediction rate 0.917, 0.888, and 0.810; success rate 0.939, 0.904, and 0.735, respectively). Based on their frequency ratio and seed cell area index values, all models except VIKOR showed acceptable accuracy of classification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-458
Number of pages16
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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