Towards Flood Resilience in Large Metropolitan Areas: Real-time Flood Forecast and Planning for Climate Uncertainty



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Urban floods generated by heavy and short-duration rainfall are a major concern in urban areas due to their potential socioeconomic impacts and threat to life. Moreover, such threats are expected to continue with increasing trends of population growth, urbanization, and extreme meteorological events. In this dissertation, two main goals are defined to support flood resilience in metropolitan areas on different temporal scales: (1) In longer-term planning horizon (years to decades), to assess how extreme precipitation is expected to change in the future due to climate change and to incorporate these changes in flood engineering design; (2) In short-term (hours to days), to explore the predictive capability of real-time flood forecast systems integrating meteorological variables from state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction to urban scale hydrodynamic models. The long-term analysis of the most recent large ensemble climate projections revealed that the current engineering design standard is expected to become obsolete by 2080 in most of the United States, and a novel method was presented for incorporating precipitation changes in flood engineering design at a continental scale. This method can support water resources engineers and decision-makers in planning for climate uncertainty. When focusing on the short-term, the performance of two distinct real-time flood forecast systems for small urban and suburban watersheds (<200 km2) was evaluated for multiple flood events between 2020 and 2021. The first system based on a fully distributed hydrological model, and the second consisting of a two-dimensional hydrodynamic model enabled real-time flood forecasts with 36- and 48-hour lead time, respectively. This research advances the scientific knowledge of urban flood modeling by highlighting key insights on the current short-range real-time flood predictability that can guide preparedness and response action to approaching flood events.



Climate change, Flood inundation, Global climate model large ensemble, Hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, Intensity-duration-frequency curves, Precipitation forecast