Articles | Volume 15, issue 7
Research article
24 Jul 2015
Research article |  | 24 Jul 2015

Hydrologic sensitivity of flood runoff and inundation: 2011 Thailand floods in the Chao Phraya River basin

T. Sayama, Y. Tatebe, Y. Iwami, and S. Tanaka

Abstract. The Thailand floods in 2011 caused unprecedented economic damage in the Chao Phraya River basin. To diagnose the flood hazard characteristics, this study analyses the hydrologic sensitivity of flood runoff and inundation to rainfall. The motivation is to address why the seemingly insignificant monsoon rainfall, or 1.2 times more rainfall than for past large floods, including the ones in 1995 and 2006, resulted in such devastating flooding. To quantify the hydrologic sensitivity, this study simulated long-term rainfall–runoff and inundation for the entire river basin (160 000 km2). The simulation suggested that the flood inundation volume was 1.6 times more in 2011 than for the past flood events. Furthermore, the elasticity index suggested that a 1 % increase in rainfall causes a 2.3 % increase in runoff and a 4.2 % increase in flood inundation. This study highlights the importance of sensitivity quantification for a better understanding of flood hazard characteristics; the presented basin-wide rainfall–runoff–inundation simulation was an effective approach to analyse the sensitivity of flood runoff and inundation at the river basin scale.

Short summary
In 2011 the Chao Phraya River basin received about 1400mm rainfall, which was 1.2 times more than past large floods in 1995 and 2006. The long-term rainfall-runoff-inundation simulation and its water balance analysis revealed high elasticity in the flood inundation volume (4.2%). 1.2 times more rainfall might result in 1.6 times more flood inundation volume in 2011. The high sensitivity of inundation should be well recognized for a better understanding of the flood hazard characteristics.
Final-revised paper