Appropriate model use for predicting elevations and inundation extent for extreme flood events

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Kvocka, Davor ; Falconer, Roger Alexander ; Bray, Michaela (2015)
  • Publisher: Springer
  • Journal: Natural Hazards
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1007/s11069-015-1926-0
  • Subject: Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous) | Atmospheric Science | Water Science and Technology | TC

Flood risk assessment is generally studied using flood simulation models; however, flood risk managers often simplify the computational process; this is called a “simplification strategy”. This study investigates the appropriateness of the “simplification strategy” when used as a flood risk assessment tool for areas prone to flash flooding. The 2004 Boscastle, UK, flash flood was selected as a case study. Three different model structures were considered in this study, including: (1) a shock-capturing model, (2) a regular ADI-type flood model and (3) a diffusion wave model, i.e. a zero-inertia approach. The key findings from this paper strongly suggest that applying the “simplification strategy” is only appropriate for flood simulations with a mild slope and over relatively smooth terrains, whereas in areas susceptible to flash flooding (i.e. steep catchments), following this strategy can lead to significantly erroneous predictions of the main parameters—particularly the peak water levels and the inundation extent. For flood risk assessment of urban areas, where the emergence of flash flooding is possible, it is shown to be necessary to incorporate shock-capturing algorithms in the solution procedure, since these algorithms prevent the formation of spurious oscillations and provide a more realistic simulation of the flood levels.
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