Model cascade from meteorological drivers to river flood hazard: Flood-cascade v1.0

Peter Uhe, Daniel Mitchell, Paul D. Bates, Nans Addor, Jeff Neal, Hylke E. Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Riverine flood hazard is the consequence of meteorological drivers, primarily precipitation, hydrological processes and the interaction of floodwaters with the floodplain landscape. Modeling this can be particularly challenging because of the multiple steps and differing spatial scales involved in the varying processes. As the climate modeling community increases their focus on the risks associated with climate change, it is important to translate the meteorological drivers into relevant hazard estimates. This is especially important for the climate attribution and climate projection communities. Current climate change assessments of flood risk typically neglect key processes, and instead of explicitly modeling flood inundation, they commonly use precipitation or river flow as proxies for flood hazard. This is due to the complexity and uncertainties of model cascades and the computational cost of flood inundation modeling. Here, we lay out a clear methodology for taking meteorological drivers, e.g., from observations or climate models, through to high-resolution (g1/490g m) river flooding (fluvial) hazards. Thus, this framework is designed to be an accessible, computationally efficient tool using freely available data to enable greater uptake of this type of modeling. The meteorological inputs (precipitation and air temperature) are transformed through a series of modeling steps to yield, in turn, surface runoff, river flow, and flood inundation. We explore uncertainties at different modeling steps. The flood inundation estimates can then be related to impacts felt at community and household levels to determine exposure and risks from flood events. The approach uses global data sets and thus can be applied anywhere in the world, but we use the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh as a case study in order to demonstrate the necessary steps in our hazard framework. This framework is designed to be driven by meteorology from observational data sets or climate model output. In this study, only observations are used to drive the models, so climate changes are not assessed. However, by comparing current and future simulated climates, this framework can also be used to assess impacts of climate change.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4865-4890
Number of pages26
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 5 2021
Externally publishedYes


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