Validation of a Global Hydrodynamic Flood Inundation Model

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 2:10 PM
Paul D Bates1, Andrew Smith1, Christopher Charles Sampson1, Lorenzo Alfieri2 and Jeffrey C Neal1, (1)University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom, (2)EU Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy
In this work we present first validation results for a hyper-resolution global flood inundation model. We use a true hydrodynamic model (LISFLOOD-FP) to simulate flood inundation at 1km resolution globally and then use downscaling algorithms to determine flood extent and depth at 90m spatial resolution. Terrain data are taken from a custom version of the SRTM data set that has been processed specifically for hydrodynamic modelling. Return periods of flood flows along the entire global river network are determined using: (1) empirical relationships between catchment characteristics and index flood magnitude in different hydroclimatic zones derived from global runoff data; and (2) an index flood growth curve, also empirically derived. Bankful return period flow is then used to set channel width and depth, and flood defence impacts are modelled using empirical relationships between GDP, urbanization and defence standard of protection. The results of these simulations are global flood hazard maps for a number of different return period events from 1 in 5 to 1 in 1000 years. We compare these predictions to flood hazard maps developed by national government agencies in the UK and Germany using similar methods but employing detailed local data, and to observed flood extent at a number of sites including St. Louis, USA and Bangkok in Thailand. Results show that global flood hazard models can have considerable skill given careful treatment to overcome errors in the publicly available data that are used as their input.