Potential Impact of Climate Changes on the Inundation Risk Levels

The overall objective of the study is to generate information for an enhanced land use planning with respect to flood hazards. The study assesses the potential impact of climate change by simulating a dam break scenario in a high intensity rainfall event and evaluates the vulnerability risk in the downstream region by integrating ArcGIS and Hydrologic Engineering Centers River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) technologies.

In the past century, the evidence of climate changes are observed in terms of increase in high intensity rainfall events. These events are of high concern, as increased inflow rates may increase the probability of a dam failure, leading to higher magnitude flooding events involving multiple consequences. The 100 year historical rainfall data for the central Mississippi region reveals an increased trend in the intensity of rainfall rates after the 1970s. With more than 10% of high hazard dams in the central region, the damage can be far accumulative. The study determines occurrence of the high intensity rainfall event in the past 100 years for central Mississippi and simulates a Ross Barnett Reservoir dam break scenario and evaluates the vulnerability risks due to inundation in the immediate downstream region, which happens to be the State Capital.

The results indicate that the inundation due to a Ross Barnett Reservoir failure under high intensity rainfall event is comparable to a catastrophic flood event experienced by the region in 1979, which almost equals a 200-year flood magnitude. The results indicate that the extent and depth of flood waters poses a significant destructive threat to the state capital, inundating various infrastructural and transportation networks.

Reference: Yerramilli S. Potential Impact of Climate Changes on the Inundation Risk Levels in a Dam Break ScenarioISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. 2013; 2(1):110-134

Source: International Journal of Geo-Information, 4/march/2013

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