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Alfred J. Kalyanapu, A. K. M. Azad Hossain, Jinwoo Kim, Wondmagegn Yigzaw, Faisal Hossain, and C. K. Shum


Recent research in mesoscale hydrology suggests that the size of the reservoirs and the land-use/land-cover (LULC) patterns near them impact the extreme weather [e.g., probable maximum flood (PMF)]. A key question was addressed by W. Yigzaw et al.: How do reservoir size and/or LULC modify extreme flood patterns, specifically PMF via modification of probable maximum precipitation (PMP)? Using the American River watershed (ARW) as a representative example of an impounded watershed with Folsom Dam as the flood control structure, they applied the distributed Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model to simulate the PMF from the atmospheric feedbacks simulated for various LULC scenarios. The current study presents a methodology to extend the impacts of these modified extreme flood patterns on the downstream Sacramento County, California. The research question addressed is, what are the relative effects of downstream flood hazards to population on the American River system under various PMF scenarios for the Folsom Dam? To address this goal, a two-dimensional flood model, the Flood in Two Dimensions–Graphics Processing Unit (Flood2D-GPU), is calibrated using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and Landsat satellite observations and observed flood stage data. The calibration process emphasized challenges associated with using National Elevation Dataset (NED) digital elevation model (DEM) and topographic light detection and ranging (lidar)–derived DEMs to achieve realistic flood inundation. Following this calibration exercise, the flood model was used to simulate four land-use scenarios (control, predam, reservoir double, and nonirrigation). The flood hazards are quantified as downstream flood hazard zones by estimating flood depths and velocities and its impacts on risk to population using depth–velocity hazard relationships provided by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR). From the preliminary application of methodology in this study, it is evident from comparing downstream flood hazard that similar trends in PMF comparisons reported by W. Yigzaw et al. were observed. Between the control and nonirrigation, the downstream flood hazard is pronounced by −3.90% for the judgment zone and −2.40% for high hazard zones. Comparing the control and predam scenarios, these differences are amplified, ranging between 0.17% and −1.34%. While there was no change detected in the peak PMF discharges between the control and reservoir-double scenarios, it still yielded an increase in high hazard areas for the latter. Based on this preliminary bottom-up vulnerability assessment study, it is evident that what was observed in PMF comparisons by W. Yigzaw et al. is confirmed in comparisons between control versus predam and control versus nonirrigation. While there was no change detected in the peak PMF discharges between the control and reservoir-double scenarios, it still yielded a noticeable change in the total areal extents: specifically, an increase in high hazard areas for the latter. Continued studies in bottom-up vulnerability assessment of flood hazards will aid in developing suitable mitigation and adaptation options for a much needed resilient urban infrastructure.

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