Articles | Volume 13, issue 12
Research article
23 Dec 2013
Research article |  | 23 Dec 2013

Maximising the usefulness of flood risk assessment for the River Vistula in Warsaw

A. Kiczko, R. J. Romanowicz, M. Osuch, and E. Karamuz

Abstract. The derivation of the flood risk maps requires an estimation of maximum inundation extent for a flood with a given return period, e.g. 100 or 500 yr. The results of numerical simulations of flood wave propagation are used to overcome the lack of relevant observations. In practice, deterministic 1-D models are used for that purpose. The solution of a 1-D model depends on the initial and boundary conditions and estimates of model parameters based on the available noisy observations. Therefore, there is a large uncertainty involved in the derivation of flood risk maps using a single realisation of a flow model. Bayesian conditioning based on multiple model simulations can be used to quantify this uncertainty; however, it is too computer-time demanding to be applied in flood risk assessment in practice, without further flow routing model simplifications. We propose robust and feasible methodology for estimating flood risk. In order to decrease the computation times the assumption of a gradually varied flow and the application of a steady state flow routing model is introduced. The aim of this work is an analysis of the influence of those simplifying assumptions and uncertainty of observations and modelling errors on flood inundation mapping and a quantitative comparison with deterministic flood extent maps. Apart from the uncertainty related to the model structure and its parameters, the uncertainty of the estimated flood wave with a specified probability of return period (so-called 1-in-10 yr, or 1-in-100 yr flood) is also taken into account. In order to derive the uncertainty of inundation extent conditioned on the design flood, the probabilities related to the design wave and flow model uncertainties are integrated. In the present paper that integration is done whilst taking into account the dependence of roughness coefficients on discharge. The roughness is parameterised based on maximum annual discharges. This approach allows for the relationship between flood extent and flow values to be derived, thus giving a cumulative assessment of flood risk. The methods are illustrated using the Warsaw reach of the River Vistula as a case study. The results indicate that deterministic and stochastic flood inundation maps cannot be quantitatively compared. We show that the proposed simplified approach to flood risk assessment can be applied even when breaching of the embankment occurs, with the condition that the flooded area is small enough to be filled rapidly.

Final-revised paper