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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Sep 2018

Research article | 04 Sep 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Spatially dependent Intensity-Duration-Frequency curves to support the design of civil infrastructure systems

Phuong Dong Le1,2, Michael Leonard1, and Seth Westra1 Phuong Dong Le et al.
  • 1School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  • 2Thuyloi University, Hanoi, Vietnam

Abstract. Conventional flood risk methods typically focus on estimation at a single location, which is inadequate for civil infrastructure systems such as road or railway infrastructure. This is because rainfall extremes are spatially dependent, so that to understand overall system risk it is necessary to assess the interconnected elements of the system jointly. For example, when designing evacuation routes it is necessary to understand the risk of one part of the system failing given that another region is flooded or exceeds the level at which evacuation becomes necessary. Similarly, failure of any single part of a road section (e.g., a flooded river crossing) may lead to the wider system’s failure (i.e. the entire road becomes inoperable). This study demonstrates a spatially dependent Intensity-Duration-Frequency curve framework that can be used to estimate flood risk across multiple catchments, accounting for dependence both in space and across different critical storm durations. The framework is demonstrated via a case study of a highway upgrade, comprising five bridge crossings where the upstream contributing catchments each have different times of concentration. The results show that conditional and unconditional design flows can differ by a factor of two, highlighting the importance of taking an integrated approach. There is also a reduction in the failure probability of the overall system compared with the case of no spatial dependence between storms. The results demonstrate the potential uses of spatially dependent Intensity-Duration-Frequency curves and suggest the need for more conservative design estimates to take into account conditional risks.

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Short summary
While conventional approaches focus on design floods at individual locations, there are many situations requiring an understanding of spatial dependence of floods at multiple locations. This research describes a new framework for analysing flood characteristics across civil infrastructure systems, including conditional and joint probabilities of floods. This work leads to a new flood estimation paradigm, which focuses on the risk of the entire system rather than each system element in isolation.
While conventional approaches focus on design floods at individual locations, there are many...