Articles | Volume 15, issue 2
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 617–633, 2011
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 617–633, 2011

Research article 22 Feb 2011

Research article | 22 Feb 2011

Quantifying uncertainty in urban flooding analysis considering hydro-climatic projection and urban development effects

I.-W. Jung2,1, H. Chang1, and H. Moradkhani2 I.-W. Jung et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, Portland State University, 1721 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201, USA
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97201, USA

Abstract. How will the combined impacts of land use change, climate change, and hydrologic modeling influence changes in urban flood frequency and what is the main uncertainty source of the results? Will such changes differ by catchment with different degrees of current and future urban development? We attempt to answer these questions in two catchments with different degrees of urbanization, the Fanno catchment with 84% urban land use and the Johnson catchment with 36% urban land use, both located in the Pacific Northwest of the US. Five uncertainty sources – general circulation model (GCM) structures, future greenhouse gas (GHG) emission scenarios, land use change scenarios, natural variability, and hydrologic model parameters – are considered to compare the relative source of uncertainty in flood frequency projections. Two land use change scenarios, conservation and development, representing possible future land use changes are used for analysis. Results show the highest increase in flood frequency under the combination of medium high GHG emission (A1B) and development scenarios, and the lowest increase under the combination of low GHG emission (B1) and conservation scenarios. Although the combined impact is more significant to flood frequency change than individual scenarios, it does not linearly increase flood frequency. Changes in flood frequency are more sensitive to climate change than land use change in the two catchments for 2050s (2040–2069). Shorter term flood frequency change, 2 and 5 year floods, is highly affected by GCM structure, while longer term flood frequency change above 25 year floods is dominated by natural variability. Projected flood frequency changes more significantly in Johnson creek than Fanno creek. This result indicates that, under expected climate change conditions, adaptive urban planning based on the conservation scenario could be more effective in less developed Johnson catchment than in the already developed Fanno catchment.