Method for Incorporating Morphological Sensitivity into Flood Inundation Modeling

Douglas Pender, Sandhya Patidar, Gareth Pender, Heather Haynes

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17 Citations (Scopus)
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Typically, the analysis and design of fluvial flood defence schemes is based on a single N year extreme flow event using a single survey of the river channel and flood plains. Adopting this approach assumes that the channel capacity is identical for all subsequent N year events. If one assumes that the typical design life for a flood defence scheme is of the order of 50 years, then such an approach is flawed because river channel morphology, and hence flood conveyance, may change considerably over this time scale. Therefore, to provide a more robust estimate of future flood inundation, a sensitivity analysis of these changes should be undertaken. This paper proposes a modeling methodology that combines a stochastic model, for estimating streamflow throughout the design period, and a 1D sediment transport model (HEC-RAS), to enable this sensitivity to be included in flood inundation modeling and defence scheme design. The methodology is demonstrated through conceptual implementation to evaluate the change in water surface elevation (WSE) along an alluvial river (River Caldew, England) reach after 50 years of sediment transport. Changes in WSE are assessed when the reach is natural (no flood defences) and modified (with idealized flood defences). Results show that the construction of the flood defence scheme does not alter the overall morphological pattern of the reach but can significantly increase (260%) local aggradation. Additionally, 50 years of morphological change have the potential to increase WSE such that high flows, previously confined within the channel, can overtop the banks and become flood events; and that, the standard freeboard levels of the flood defence scheme may be insufficient to prevent overtopping when morphological change is considered. The method can be considered as a semiquantitative modeling methodology to account for the sediment-related sensitivity of flood risk management; and provides valuable insights into the potential magnitude that this has on future flood inundation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number04016008
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydraulic Engineering
Issue number6
Early online date26 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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