06 Jan 2023
06 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

A new modelling framework for regional assessment of extreme sea levels and associated coastal flooding along the German Baltic Sea coast

Joshua Kiesel1, Marvin Lorenz2, Marcel König3,a, Ulf Gräwe2, and Athanasios T. Vafeidis1 Joshua Kiesel et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, 24118, Germany
  • 2Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Rostock, Germany
  • 3Private Consultant
  • anow at: Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA

Abstract. Hydrodynamic models are increasingly being used in recent years to map coastal floodplains on local to continental scales. On regional scales, however, high computational costs and the need for high-resolution data limit their application. Additionally, model validation constitutes a major concern, as in-situ data are hardly available or limited in spatial coverage to small parts of the study region. Here we address these challenges by developing a modelling framework, which couples a hydrodynamic coastal inundation model covering the German Baltic Sea coast with a hydrodynamic coastal ocean model of the western Baltic Sea, to produce high resolution (50 m) regional scale flood maps for the entire German Baltic Sea coast. Using a LiDAR derived digital elevation model with 1 m horizontal resolution, we derive and validate the elevation of dikes and natural flood barriers such as dunes. Using this model setup, we simulate a storm surge event from January 2019, a surge with a return period of 200 years and two sea-level rise scenarios for the year 2100 (200-year event plus 1 m and 1.5 m). We validate the simulated flood extents by comparing them to inundation maps derived from Sentinel-1 SAR satellite imagery, acquired between 1.5 and 3.5 hours after the peak of the 2019 surge, covering a large part of the study region. Our results confirm that the German Baltic Sea coast is exposed to coastal flooding, with flood extent varying between 118 km2 and 1016 km2 for the 2019 storm surge and a 200-year return water level plus 1.5 m of sea-level rise, respectively. Hotspots of coastal flooding are mostly located in the federal state of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania. Our results emphasise the importance of current plans to update coastal protection schemes along the German Baltic Sea coast over the course of the 21st century in order to prevent large-scale damage in the future.

Joshua Kiesel et al.

Status: open (until 23 Feb 2023)

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Joshua Kiesel et al.


Flood maps for all storm surge scenarios Joshua Kiesel, Marvin Lorenz, Marcel König, Ulf Gräwe, Athanasios T. Vafeidis

Joshua Kiesel et al.


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Short summary
In order to address existing challenges around the modelling of coastal flooding on large spatial scales, we developed a validated modelling framework that simulates flooding for the entire German Baltic Sea coast taking coastal protection into account. We simulate storm surges with and without sea-level rise and confirm that the German Baltic Sea coast is highly exposed to coastal flooding. We emphasize the importance of current plans to update coastal protection schemes in the study region.