Deriving global flood hazard maps of fluvial floods through a physical model cascade

Pappenberger F, Dutra E, Wetterhall F, Cloke HL
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 4143-4156, 2012

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Global flood hazard maps can be used in the assessment of flood risk in a number of different applications, including (re)insurance and large scale flood preparedness. Such global hazard maps can be generated using large scale physically based models of rainfall-runoff and river routing, when used in conjunction with a number of post-processing methods. In this study, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) land surface model is coupled to ERA-Interim reanalysis meteorological forcing data, and resultant runoff is passed to a river routing algorithm which simulates floodplains and flood flow across the global land area. The global hazard map is based on a 30 yr (19792010) simulation period. A Gumbel distribution is fitted to the annual maxima flows to derive a number of flood return periods. The return periods are calculated initially for a 25 25 km grid, which is then reprojected onto a 1 1 km grid to derive maps of higher resolution and estimate flooded fractional area for the individual 25 25 km cells. Several global and regional maps of flood return periods ranging from 2 to 500 yr are presented. The results compare reasonably to a benchmark data set of global flood hazard. The developed methodology can be applied to other datasets on a global or regional scale.