Subgrid Modeling for Compound Flooding in Coastal Systems

Compound flooding, the concurrence of multiple flooding mechanisms such as storm surge, heavy rainfall, and riverine flooding, poses a significant threat to coastal communities. To mitigate the impacts of compound flooding, forecasts must represent the variability of flooding drivers over a wide range of spatial scales while remaining timely. One approach to develop these forecasts is through subgrid corrections, which utilize information at smaller scales to “correct” water levels and current velocities averaged over the model scale. Recent studies have shown that subgrid models can improve both accuracy and efficiency; however, existing models are not able to account for the dynamic interactions of hydrologic and hydrodynamic drivers and their contributions to flooding along the smallest flow pathways when using a coarse resolution. Here, we have developed a solver called CoaSToRM (Coastal Subgrid Topography Research Model) with subgrid corrections to compute compound flooding in coastal systems resulting from fluvial, pluvial, tidal, and wind-driven processes. A key contribution is the model’s ability to enforce all flood drivers and use the subgrid corrections to improve the accuracy of the coarse-resolution simulation. The model is validated for Hurricane Eta 2020 in Tampa Bay, showing improved prediction accuracy with subgrid corrections at 42 locations. Subgrid models with coarse resolutions (R2 = 0.70, 0.73, 0.77 for 3-, 1.5-, 0.75-km grids) outperform standard counterparts (R2 = 0.03, 0.14, 0.26). A 3-km subgrid simulation runs roughly 50 times faster than a 0.75-km subgrid simulation, with similar accuracy.

A Begmohammadi, D Wirasaet, N Lin, JC Dietrich, D Bolster, AB Kennedy (2023). “Subgrid Modeling for Compound Flooding in Coastal Systems.” Coastal Engineering Journal, online, DOI: 10.1080/21664250.2024.2373482.