Skip to content

Quantifying the importance of spatial resolution and other factors through global sensitivity analysis of a flood inundation model

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9146–9163
Number of pages18
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number11
Early online date30 Nov 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Nov 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 30 Nov 2016
DatePublished (current) - Nov 2016


Where high resolution topographic data are available, modellers are faced with the decision of whether it is better to spend computational resource on resolving topography at finer resolutions or on running more simulations to account for various uncertain input factors (e.g. model parameters). In this paper we apply Global Sensitivity Analysis to explore how influential the choice of spatial resolution is when compared to uncertainties in the Manning's friction coefficient parameters, the inflow hydrograph, and those stemming from the coarsening of topographic data used to produce Digital Elevation Models (DEMs). We apply the hydraulic model LISFLOOD-FP to produce several temporally and spatially variable model outputs that represent different aspects of flood inundation processes, including flood extent, water depth and time of inundation. We find that the most influential input factor for flood extent predictions changes during the flood event, starting with the inflow hydrograph during the rising limb before switching to the channel friction parameter during peak flood inundation, and finally to the floodplain friction parameter during the drying phase of the flood event. Spatial resolution and uncertainty introduced by resampling topographic data to coarser resolutions are much more important for water depth predictions, which are also sensitive to different input factors spatially and temporally. Our findings indicate that the sensitivity of LISFLOOD-FP predictions is more complex than previously thought. Consequently, the input factors that modellers should prioritise will differ depending on the model output assessed, and the location and time of when and where this output is most relevant.

    Research areas

  • Sensitivity Analysis, Sobol’ method, Flood inundation modelling, Spatial resolution, Uncertainty, Hydraulic model

Download statistics

No data available



  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Wiley at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 1.21 MB, PDF document

  • Full-text PDF (final published version)

    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via Wiley at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Final published version, 2.17 MB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups