The Significance of the Spatial Variability of Rainfall on the Numerical Simulation of Urban Floods


The growth of urban population, combined with an increase of extreme events due to climate change call for a better understanding and representation of urban floods. The uncertainty in rainfall distribution is one of the most important factors that affects the watershed response to a given precipitation event. However, most of the investigations on this topic have considered theoretical scenarios, with little reference to case studies in the real world. This paper incorporates the use of spatially-variable precipitation data from a long-range radar in the simulation of the severe floods that impacted the city of Hull, U.K., in June 2007. This radar-based rainfall field is merged with rain gauge data using a ked interpolation technique. The utility of this spatially-variable information is investigated through the comparison of computed flooded areas (uniform and radar) against those registered by public authorities. Both results show similar skills at reproducing the real event, but differences in the total precipitated volumes, water depths and flooded areas are illustrated. It is envisaged that in urban areas and with the advent of higher resolution radars, these differences will be more important and call for further investigation.