Combined Modeling of US Fluvial, Pluvial, and Coastal Flood Hazard Under Current and Future Climates

Paul D Bates*, Oliver E J Wing, Jeff Neal, Gemma R Coxon, et al.

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

142 Citations (Scopus)
133 Downloads (Pure)


This study reports a new and significantly enhanced analysis of US flood hazard at 30 m spatial resolution. Specific improvements include updated hydrography data, new methods to determine channel depth, more rigorous flood frequency analysis, output downscaling to property tract level, and inclusion of the impact of local interventions in the flooding system. For the first time, we consider pluvial, fluvial, and coastal flood hazards within the same framework and provide projections for both current (rather than historic average) conditions and for future time periods centered on 2035 and 2050 under the RCP4.5 emissions pathway. Validation against high‐quality local models and the entire catalog of FEMA 1% annual probability flood maps yielded Critical Success Index values in the range 0.69–0.82. Significant improvements over a previous pluvial/fluvial model version are shown for high‐frequency events and coastal zones, along with minor improvements in areas where model performance was already good. The result is the first comprehensive and consistent national‐scale analysis of flood hazard for the conterminous US for both current and future conditions. Even though we consider a stabilization emissions scenario and a near‐future time horizon, we project clear patterns of changing flood hazard (3σ changes in 100 years inundated area of −3.8 to +16% at 1° scale), that are significant when considered as a proportion of the land area where human use is possible or in terms of the currently protected land area where the standard of flood defense protection may become compromised by this time.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020WR028673
Number of pages29
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number2
Early online date16 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


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