CSDMS 2018 annual meeting - Geoprocesses, geohazards

Modelling flood risk in the continental US

Paul Bates

University of Bristol, United Kingdom

Flood modelling at global scales represents a revolution in hydraulic science and has the potential to transform decision-making and risk management in a wide variety of fields. Such modelling draws on a rich heritage of algorithm and data set development in hydraulic modelling over the last 20 years, and is now beginning to yield new insights into current and future flood risk. This paper reviews this progress and outlines recent efforts to develop a 30m resolution true hydrodynamic model of the entire conterminous US. The model is built using an automated framework which uses US National Elevation Dataset, the HydroSHEDS river network, regionalised frequency analysis to determine extreme flow and rainfall boundary conditions and the USACE National Levee Dataset to characterize flood defences. Comparison against FEMA and USGS flood maps shows the continental model to have skill approaching that of bespoke models built with local data. The paper describes the development and testing of the model, and it use to estimate current and future flood risk in the US using high resolution population maps and development projections.

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Of interest for:
  • Hydrology Focus Research Group