Uncertainty Assessments of Flood Inundation Impacts: Using spatial climate change scenarios to drive ensembles of distributed models for extremes

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Lancaster Environment Centre


Exploratory climate change studies for the UK indicate that an increase in the frequency of extreme events and associated flood risk is likely. Given that floods cause damage of over £1bn per year under present climatic conditions, climate change bears significant consequences for flood risk management. In order to evaluate these consequences, hydrological and flood inundation models are forced with projections of precipitation from atmospheric models for a range of Greenhouse gas emission scenarios to produce future flood predictions. However the validity and uncertainty of these model-based input precipitation fields are of key concern, as they potentially constitute a major source of ambiguity for hydrological and hydraulic modelling. Additionally, uncertainty is associated with the hydrological and inundation models themselves, such as for example the models ability to represent the dominating physical processes and to uniquely identify effective model factors (parameters and any other model variables) that will shape future forecasts. As the non-linear interaction of all model components will influence the total uncertainty associated with hydrological impact assessments these need to be comprehensively assessed. Therefore, a key and exciting challenge is to describe and quantify the origin and propagation of uncertainty from climate to hydrological to flood inundation models. This project aims to develop a novel holistic modelling approach for doing this. Our region of focus will be the River Severn catchment because of concerns about current and future flood risk. Specifically we will: (1) Quantify the 'top-end' uncertainties associated with climate change hydrological impact assessments by analyzing precipitation fields produced by two contrasting methods and assess how these affect the nature of flood and inundation predictions (2) Evaluate all uncertainties between and within a cascade modeling framework for flood inundation predictions in a fully cupled and dynamic way (3) Use novel techniques of uncertainty analysis including global sensitivity analysis and a new efficient functional similarity sampling approach to enable an effective evaluation of the uncertainties in the modeling cascade. (4) Assess the likely flood hazard change for the River Severn catchment over the next 100 years for various climate, landuse and soil moisture scenarios This project will deliver an insightful scientific methodology which can be used in future research assessments and catapult UK science to the forefront of an exciting, socially, and politically important international research area.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
NE/E002404/1 15/09/2007 14/09/2008 £23,621
NE/E002404/2 Transfer NE/E002404/1 01/03/2009 28/02/2011 £15,928