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Assimilation of probabilistic flood maps from SAR data into a coupled hydrologic–hydraulic forecasting model: a proof of concept

Di Mauro​​​​​​​, C. ORCID:, Hostache, R. ORCID:, Matgen, P., Pelich, R., Chini, M., Van Leeuwen, P. J. ORCID:, Nichols, N. K. ORCID: and Blöschl, G. ORCID: (2021) Assimilation of probabilistic flood maps from SAR data into a coupled hydrologic–hydraulic forecasting model: a proof of concept. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 25 (7). pp. 4081-4097. ISSN 1027-5606

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/hess-25-4081-2021


Coupled hydrologic and hydraulic models represent powerful tools for simulating streamflow and water levels along the riverbed and in the floodplain. However, input data, model parameters, initial conditions, and model structure represent sources of uncertainty that affect the reliability and accuracy of flood forecasts. Assimilation of satellitebased synthetic aperture radar (SAR) observations into a flood forecasting model is generally used to reduce such uncertainties. In this context, we have evaluated how sequential assimilation of flood extent derived from SAR data can help improve flood forecasts. In particular, we carried out twin experiments based on a synthetically generated dataset with controlled uncertainty. To this end, two assimilation methods are explored and compared: the sequential importance sampling method (standard method) and its enhanced method where a tempering coefficient is used to inflate the posterior probability (adapted method) and reduce degeneracy. The experimental results show that the assimilation of SAR probabilistic flood maps significantly improves the predictions of streamflow and water elevation, thereby confirming the effectiveness of the data assimilation framework. In addition, the assimilation method significantly reduces the spatially averaged root mean square error of water levels with respect to the case without assimilation. The critical success index of predicted flood extent maps is significantly increased by the assimilation. While the standard method proves to be more accurate in estimating the water levels and streamflow at the assimilation time step, the adapted method enables a more persistent improvement of the forecasts. However, although the use of a tempering coefficient reduces the degeneracy problem, the accuracy of model simulation is lower than that of the standard method at the assimilation time step.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:99533


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