Return period assessment of urban pluvial floods through modelling of rainfall–flood response

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Intense rainfall in urban areas can often generate severe flood impacts. Consequently, it is crucial to design systems to minimize potential flood damages. Traditional, simple design of urban drainage systems assumes agreement between rainfall return period and its consequent flood return period; however, this does not always apply. Hydraulic infrastructures found in urban drainage systems can increase system heterogeneity and perturb the impact of severe rainfall response. In this study, a surface flood return period assessment was carried out at Lystrup (Denmark), which has received the impact of flooding in recent years. A 35 years' rainfall dataset together with a coupled 1D/2D surface and network model was used to analyse and assess flood return period response. Results show an ambiguous relation between rainfall and flood return periods indicating that linear rainfall–runoff relationships will, for the analysed case study, be insufficient for flood estimation. Simulation-based mapping of return periods for flood area and volume has been suggested, and moreover, a novel approach has been developed to map local flood response time and relate this to rainfall characteristics. This approach allows to carefully analyse rainfall impacts and flooding response for a correct flood return period assessment in urban areas.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Hydroinformatics
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)829-845
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Flood return period
  • Pluvial floods
  • Rainfall–flood response
  • Urban drainage system modelling


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