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A high resolution coupled hydrologic–hydraulic model (HiResFlood-UCI) for flash flood modeling

  • Author(s): Nguyen, P
  • Thorstensen, A
  • Sorooshian, S
  • Hsu, K
  • AghaKouchak, A
  • Sanders, B
  • Koren, V
  • Cui, Z
  • Smith, M
  • et al.
Abstract

HiResFlood-UCI was developed by coupling the NWS's hydrologic model (HL-RDHM) with the hydraulic model (BreZo) for flash flood modeling at decameter resolutions. The coupled model uses HL-RDHM as a rainfall-runoff generator and replaces the routing scheme of HL-RDHM with the 2D hydraulic model (BreZo) in order to predict localized flood depths and velocities. A semi-automated technique of unstructured mesh generation was developed to cluster an adequate density of computational cells along river channels such that numerical errors are negligible compared with other sources of error, while ensuring that computational costs of the hydraulic model are kept to a bare minimum. HiResFlood-UCI was implemented for a watershed (ELDO2) in the DMIP2 experiment domain in Oklahoma. Using synthetic precipitation input, the model was tested for various components including HL-RDHM parameters (a priori versus calibrated), channel and floodplain Manning n values, DEM resolution (10 m versus 30 m) and computation mesh resolution (10 m+ versus 30 m+). Simulations with calibrated versus a priori parameters of HL-RDHM show that HiResFlood-UCI produces reasonable results with the a priori parameters from NWS. Sensitivities to hydraulic model resistance parameters, mesh resolution and DEM resolution are also identified, pointing to the importance of model calibration and validation for accurate prediction of localized flood intensities. HiResFlood-UCI performance was examined using 6 measured precipitation events as model input for model calibration and validation of the streamflow at the outlet. The Nash–Sutcliffe Efficiency (NSE) obtained ranges from 0.588 to 0.905. The model was also validated for the flooded map using USGS observed water level at an interior point. The predicted flood stage error is 0.82 m or less, based on a comparison to measured stage. Validation of stage and discharge predictions builds confidence in model predictions of flood extent and localized velocities, which are fundamental to reliable flash flood warning.

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