Predicting Flood Hazards in Systems with Multiple Flooding Mechanisms

Monday, 15 December 2014
Adam Luke1, Jochen Schubert1, Linyin Cheng2, Amir AghaKouchak1 and Brett F Sanders1, (1)University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States, (2)University California Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States
Delineating flood zones in systems that are susceptible to flooding from a single mechanism (riverine flooding) is a relatively well defined procedure with specific guidance from agencies such as FEMA and USACE. However, there is little guidance in delineating flood zones in systems that are susceptible to flooding from multiple mechanisms such as storm surge, waves, tidal influence, and riverine flooding. In this study, a new flood mapping method which accounts for multiple extremes occurring simultaneously is developed and exemplified. The study site in which the method is employed is the Tijuana River Estuary (TRE) located in Southern California adjacent to the U.S./Mexico border. TRE is an intertidal coastal estuary that receives freshwater flows from the Tijuana River. Extreme discharge from the Tijuana River is the primary driver of flooding within TRE, however tide level and storm surge also play a significant role in flooding extent and depth. A comparison between measured flows at the Tijuana River and ocean levels revealed a correlation between extreme discharge and ocean height. Using a novel statistical method based upon extreme value theory, ocean heights were predicted conditioned up extreme discharge occurring within the Tijuana River. This statistical technique could also be applied to other systems in which different factors are identified as the primary drivers of flooding, such as significant wave height conditioned upon tide level, for example. Using the predicted ocean levels conditioned upon varying return levels of discharge as forcing parameters for the 2D hydraulic model BreZo, the 100, 50, 20, and 10 year floodplains were delineated. The results will then be compared to floodplains delineated using the standard methods recommended by FEMA for riverine zones with a downstream ocean boundary.