Articles | Volume 17, issue 2
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 679–689, 2013
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 679–689, 2013

Research article 14 Feb 2013

Research article | 14 Feb 2013

Joint impact of rainfall and tidal level on flood risk in a coastal city with a complex river network: a case study of Fuzhou City, China

J. J. Lian, K. Xu, and C. Ma J. J. Lian et al.
  • State Key Laboratory of Hydraulic Engineering Simulation and Safety, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China

Abstract. Coastal cities are particularly vulnerable to flood under multivariable conditions, such as heavy precipitation, high sea levels, and storms. The combined effect of multiple sources and the joint probability of extremes should be considered to assess and manage flood risk better. This paper aims to study the combined effect of rainfall and the tidal level of the receiving water body on flood probability and severity in Fuzhou City, which has a complex river network. Flood severity under a range of precipitation intensities, with return periods (RPs) of 5 yr to 100 yr, and tidal levels was assessed through a hydrodynamic model verified by data observed during Typhoon Longwang in 2005. According to the percentages of the river network where flooding occurred, the threshold conditions for flood severity were estimated in two scenarios: with and without working pumps. In Fuzhou City, working pumps efficiently reduce flood risk from precipitation within a 20-yr RP. However, the pumps may not work efficiently when rainfall exceeds a 100-yr RP because of the limited conveyance capacity of the river network. Joint risk probability was estimated through the optimal copula. The joint probability of rainfall and tidal level both exceeding their threshold values is very low, and the greatest threat in Fuzhou comes from heavy rainfall. However, the tidal level poses an extra risk of flood. Given that this extra risk is ignored in the design of flood defense in Fuzhou, flood frequency and severity may be higher than understood during design.