Floods are among the most common and devastating natural disasters in the world, with around 2 million properties at risk of flooding in the UK alone. Recent years have seen growing public, professional and political interest in how societies respond to extreme natural events such as flooding.
Understandably, major disasters tend to provoke calls for better information on the assumption that if people were more aware of risk they would be better able to respond to it. Behind this assumption, however, lie a series of very significant theoretical notions which challenge the idea that public information alters public behaviour in any clearly defined or predictable way.
Within this broad context of research the Environment Agency's online Flood Map (Section 3) will be examined as a specific example of a risk information source. The research objectives are outlined in Section 2.