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 4.0 License.
Research article
01 Nov 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.
Climate uncertainty in flood protection planning
Beatrice Dittes, Olga Špačková, Lukas Schoppa, and Daniel Straub Engineering Risk Analysis Group, Technische Universität München, Arcisstr. 21, 80333 München, Germany
Abstract. Technical flood protection is a necessary part of integrated strategies to protect riverine settlements from extreme floods. Many technical flood protection measures, such as dikes and protection walls, are costly to adapt after their initial construction. This poses a challenge to decision makers as there is large uncertainty in how the required protection level will change during the measure life time, which is typically many decades long. Flood protection requirements should account for multiple future uncertain factors: socio-economic, e.g. whether the population and with it the damage potential grows or falls; technological, e.g. possible advancements in flood protection; and climatic, e.g. whether extreme discharge will become more frequent or not. We focus here on the planning implications of the uncertainty in extreme discharge. We account for the sequential nature of the decision process, in which the adequacy of the protection is regularly revised in the future based on the discharges that have been observed by that point and that reduce uncertainty. For planning purposes, we categorize uncertainties as either visible, if they can be quantified from available catchment data, or hidden, if they cannot be quantified from catchment data and must be estimated, e.g. from literature. It is vital to consider the hidden uncertainty, since in practical applications only a limited amount of information (e.g. through projections, historic record) is available. We use a Bayesian approach to quantify the visible uncertainties and combine them with an estimate of the hidden uncertainties to learn a joint probability distribution of the parameters of extreme discharge. The methodology is integrated into an optimization framework and applied to a pre-alpine case study to give a quantitative, cost-optimal recommendation on the required amount of flood protection.
Citation: Dittes, B., Špačková, O., Schoppa, L., and Straub, D.: Climate uncertainty in flood protection planning, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Beatrice Dittes et al.
Beatrice Dittes et al.


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Short summary
There is large uncertainty in the future development of flood patterns, e.g. due to climate change. We quantify relevant uncertainties and show how they can be used for flood protection planning. We find that one ought to include an estimate of uncertainty that cannot be quantified from available data (hidden uncertainty), since projections and data at hand often cover only a limited range of the uncertainty spectrum. Furthermore, dependencies between climate projections must be accounted for.
There is large uncertainty in the future development of flood patterns, e.g. due to climate...