Title: Public perception of jokulhlaup hazard and risk in Iceland: implications for community education

Authors: Deanne Bird, Gudrun Gisladottir, Dale Dominey-Howes

Addresses: Department of Physical Geography, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia. ' Department of Geography and Tourism, University of Iceland, Askja, Sturlugata 7, Reykjavik 101, Iceland. ' School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Natural Hazards Research Lab and Australian Tsunami Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia

Abstract: Recent studies indicate that large prehistoric jokulhlaup have flooded west from Myrdalsjokull glacier along the Markarfljot River, south Iceland. This new evidence coupled with an increase in seismicity in the Katla caldera, the underlying volcano of Myrdalsjokull, has highlighted a possible risk to local communities encompassing the Markarfljot River. Consequently, the Icelandic Civil Defence held an evacuation exercise in March 2006 to test a newly developed evacuation plan. Following this exercise, we conducted questionnaire surveys in order to investigate the public|s knowledge and perception of jokulhlaup hazard and risk. Our results indicate that residents have a sound knowledge of jokulhlaup hazard. However, only 50% of residents perceive that their community could be at risk. Therefore, it is essential that jokulhlaup risk perception is increased to ensure a positive response to evacuation orders. This can be achieved through education programmes, open forum meetings and by regularly distributing hazard information.

Keywords: community education; Iceland; jokulhlaup hazard; Katla; Myrdalsjokull; public perception; risk management; emergency management; civil defence; evacuation planning; risk perception; glacier burst; glacier dammed lake; glacial meltwater flood; volcanic activity; public perception.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMDM.2009.024985

International Journal of Management and Decision Making, 2009 Vol.10 No.3/4, pp.164 - 175

Published online: 06 May 2009 *

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