Coupling hydroclimate-hydraulic-sedimentation models to estimate flood inundation and sediment transport during extreme flood events under a changing climate.

Research paper by Tongbi T Tu, Ali A Ercan, Kara J KJ Carr, M Levent ML Kavvas, Toan T Trinh, Kei K Ishida, John J Nosacka, Kevin K Brown

Indexed on: 21 Jun '20Published on: 21 Jun '20Published in: Science of the Total Environment


Extreme flood events are disastrous and can cause serious damages to society. Flood frequency obtained based on historical flow records may also be changing under future climate conditions. The associated flood inundation and environmental transport processes will also be affected. In this study, an integrated numerical modeling framework is proposed to investigate the inundation and sedimentation during multiple flood events (2,5,10, 20, 50, 100, 200-year) under future climate change scenarios in a watershed system in northern California, USA. The proposed modeling framework couples physical models of various spatial resolution: kilometers to several hundred kilometers climatic processes, hillslope scale hydrological processes in a watershed, and centimeters to meters scale hydrodynamic and sediment transport processes in a riverine system. The modeling results show that compared to the flows during historical periods, extreme events become more extreme in the 21st century and higher flows tend to be larger and smaller flows tend to be smaller in the system. Flood inundation in the study area, especially during 200-year events, is projected to increase in the future. More sediment will be trapped as the flow increases and the deposition will also increase in the settling basin. Sediment trap efficiency values are within 37.5-65.4% for the historical conditions, within 32.4-68.8% in the first half of the 21st century, and within 34.9-69.3% in the second half of the 21st century. The results highlight the impact of climate change on extreme flood events, the resulting sedimentation, and reflected the importance of incorporating the coupling of physical models into the adaptive watershed and river system management. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.