Developments in flood modelling

March 25, 20140 Comments

Developments in flood modelling

Flood modelling helps architects, engineers, scientists, government agencies and others to create adequate flood management plans. It is also an integral aspect of the planning and design process for new buildings or commercial sites.

Examples of flood models include HEC-RAS (Hydraulic Engineering Centre model), TUFLOW and Flowroute-i™. Some flood models are being used in increasingly innovative ways, enabling individuals and businesses to scope the depth, duration and extent of flood risk to individual properties with greater degrees of efficiency and accuracy. Our own technology, Flowroute-i, for example, is used by a broad range of organisations from major insurance firms to water utility companies. It is also the technology behind our consumer flood report service, RiskCentral.

Flowroute-i was co-developed with flood scientists at Cambridge University. It employs high-resolution digital elevation models to inform a physically realistic interpolation of fluid flow over topographic surfaces within the urban fabric; allowing water to flow down streets and around individual buildings. Further development of Flowroute-i in recent years has rapidly improved performance times and scalability, and has introduced capabilities for flood prediction from a wide variety of sources.

Two thirds of the flooding that occurred in the UK during the summer of 2007 was as a result of surface water rather than river or coastal flooding. Despite this, the risk of surface water flooding in the UK and elsewhere is currently not well understood. Until very recently, risk mapping and modelling tools have not been available to identify, and help prevent flooding induced by heavy rainfall events and ineffective drainage. With Flowroute-i, however, existing river and coastal flood modelling platforms have been built upon to enable modelling of flows from extreme rainfall events.

The application of this technology has far reaching benefits, including: improved insurance risk rating/loss estimation; identification of critical assets at risk; planning and business continuity management. The Flowroute-i modelling approach utilises high resolution topographic information (in the form of LiDAR data), building outline data, industry standard rainfall predictions and, where available, a simplified representation of the drainage network to identify areas sensitive to surface water flooding. Validation of the model results against observed flooding in the UK (summer 2007) has shown that Flowroute-i can be used effectively to predict, map and model those areas, and individual properties which are likely to flood during high-intensity rainfall events. The benefits of this approach include: reduced losses from surface water flooding; highly accurate prediction of flood extents and depths; full customisation and integration within existing systems.

Furthermore, the River Flood Module of Flowroute-i incorporates a coupled 1-dimensional/2-dimenstional (1-d/2-d) hydrodynamic model specifically designed to simulate river dynamics and floodplain inundation in complex, congested urban areas in a highly computationally-efficient manner. The coupling of a 1-d river model with a 2-d floodplain routing algorithm provides considerable added realism and accuracy as compared to stand-alone 2-d routing algorithms. Flowroute-i is capable of simulating grids having tens of millions of cells for dynamic flood events and utilizes high quality sources of terrain information such as airborne LiDAR for routing flows around individual buildings.

Flood events around the globe have a devastating impact, both in terms of the affect on people’s lives and the economic and insured losses they create. Advanced flood models such as Flowroute-i can help governments, insurance firms, planning and property companies, as well as individual home owners, to better understand the risk and create more efficient plans for the future.

To learn more about our developments in flood modelling or to speak to a consultant about Ambiental’s Flowroute-i technology, please get in touch.

Filed in: Flood modelling

About the Author ()

James Hubbard is part of Ambiental's technical team and takes responsibility for managing the company website.

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