Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
15 May 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.
The role of storm dynamics and scale in controlling urban flood response
Marie-claire ten Veldhuis1,2, Zhengzheng Zhou2,3,4, Long Yang2, Shuguang Liu3,4, and James Smith2 1Delft University of Technology, Watermanagement Department
2Princeton University, Hydrometeorology Group
3Tongji University, Department of Hydraulic Engineering, College of Civil Engineering
4UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development Shanghai
Abstract. The impact of spatial and temporal variability of rainfall on hydrological response remains poorly understood, in particular in urban catchments due to their high variability in land-use, high degree of imperviousness and the presence of stormwater infrastructure. In this study, we analyse the effect of rainfall spatial distribution with respect to basin scale and flowpath network structure on urban hydrological response based on a large, high quality observational dataset. A catalog of 279 peak events was extracted from 15 years of high resolution flow observations and radar rainfall data for five (semi)urbanised basins ranging from 7.0 to 111.1 km2 in size. Results showed that largest peak flows in the event catalog were associated with storm core scales exceeding basin scale, for all except the largest basin. Spatial scale of flood-producing storm events in the smaller basins fell into two groups: storms of large spatial scales exceeding basin size or small, concentrated events, with storm core much smaller than basin size. For the majority of events, spatial rainfall variability was strongly smoothed by the flowpath network, increasingly so for larger basin size. Correlation analysis showed that position of the storm in relation to the flowpath network was significantly correlated with peak flow in the smallest and in the two more urbanised basins. Analysis of storm movement relative to the flow path network showed that direction of storm movement, upstream or downstream relative to the flowpath network, had little influence on hydrological response variability. Slow-moving storms tend to be associated with higher peak flows and longer lag times. Unexpectedly, spatial distribution of imperviousness along the flowpath network did not significantly alter hydrological response in relation to spatial storm characteristics. These findings show the importance of observation-based analysis in validating and improving our understanding of interactions between rainfall and catchment variability.

Citation: ten Veldhuis, M.-C., Zhou, Z., Yang, L., Liu, S., and Smith, J.: The role of storm dynamics and scale in controlling urban flood response, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Marie-claire ten Veldhuis et al.
Marie-claire ten Veldhuis et al.


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Short summary
The effect of rain storm dynamics and scale on runoff flows in urban catchments remains poorly understood, due the complexity introduced by sewer networks and water detention ponds. In this study, 15 years of radar rainfall and flow observations were analysed to look into interactions between rainfall, urbanisation and peak flows. Unexpectedly, we found that position and movement of storms and urbanisation patterns in the catchments did not significantly explain variability in flood peaks.
The effect of rain storm dynamics and scale on runoff flows in urban catchments remains poorly...