Agent-based modelling and flood risk management: a compendious literature review

Lu Zhuo*, Dawei Han

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


The use of agent-based modelling (ABM) to tackle flood-related risk challenges is becoming increasingly popular in recent years. This paper reviews the literature at the interface of ABM and flood-related studies in view of understanding the technique’s advantages and limitations to flood risk management, based on a set of 61 representative articles. In particular, to understand how this process-based technique can help to link human (also institutional) decisions and behaviour with flood risks through the whole human-flood systems. Overall, the temporal and spatial distributions demonstrate a growing interest in this research area around
the world, especially since 2017. Three topic areas are identified, addressing different research challenges in the field: real-time flood emergency management, long-term flood adaptation planning, and flood hydrological modelling. The review has shown that the potential contribution of ABM to future flood risk management lays in its practical application to decision-making in adaptation policy and strategy planning. The review also critically reveals the limitation of ad hoc implementations of decision-making and behaviour in the ABM models that could make the application less realistic in the field. It is recommended that the future development should be guided/influenced by the continuing development and refinement of ABM modelling framework and theoretical foundations, and enhancement of model testing and documenting capabilities. More importantly, active collaborations between disciplines and sectors such as to involve more social and psychological sciences in ABM decision-making modelling should be encouraged; and knowledge sharing will encourage more effective uses of ABM by wider audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125600
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date3 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • agent-based modelling (ABM)
  • flood risk management
  • review
  • coupled human and natural systems (CHANS)
  • adaptation planning
  • emergency management


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