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Modeling floods in a dense urban area using 2D shallow water equations

Mignot, E., Paquier, A., Haider, S.
Journal of hydrology 2006 v.327 no.1-2 pp. 186-199
floods, urban areas, watershed hydrology, hydrologic models, equations, mathematical models, France
A code solving the 2D shallow water equations by an explicit second-order scheme is used to simulate the severe October 1988 flood in the Richelieu urban locality of the French city of Nîmes. A reference calculation using a detailed description of the street network and of the cross-sections of the streets, considering impervious residence blocks and neglecting the flow interaction with the sewer network provides a mean peak water elevation 0.13 m lower than the measured flood marks with a standard deviation between the measured and computed water depths of 0.53 m. Sensitivity analysis of various topographical and numerical parameters shows that globally, the results keep the same level of accuracy, which reflects both the stability of the calculation method and the smoothening of results. However, the local flow modifications due to change of parameter values can drastically modify the local water depths, especially when the local flow regime is modified. Furthermore, the flow distribution to the downstream parts of the city can be altered depending on the set of parameters used. Finally, a second event, the 2002 flood, was simulated with the calibrated model providing results similar to 1988 flood calculation. Thus, the article shows that, after calibration, a 2D model can be used to help planning mitigation measures in a dense urban area.