• DTM generation;
  • mesh decomposition;
  • distributed friction;
  • Carlisle


Flood modelling of urban areas is still at an early stage, partly because until recently topographic data of sufficiently high resolution and accuracy have been lacking in urban areas. However, digital surface models (DSMs) generated from airborne scanning laser altimetry (LiDAR) having sub-metre spatial resolution have now become available, and these are able to represent the complexities of urban topography. This paper describes the development of a LiDAR post-processor for urban flood modelling based on the fusion of LiDAR and digital map data. The map data are used in conjunction with LiDAR data to identify different object types in urban areas, though pattern recognition techniques are also employed. Post-processing produces a digital terrain model (DTM) for use as model bathymetry, and also a friction parameter map for use in estimating spatially distributed friction coefficients. In vegetated areas, friction is estimated from LiDAR-derived vegetation height, and (unlike most vegetation removal software) the method copes with short vegetation less than ∼1 m high, which may occupy a substantial fraction of even an urban floodplain. The DTM and friction parameter map may also be used to help to generate an unstructured mesh of a vegetated urban floodplain for use by a two-dimensional finite element model. The mesh is decomposed to reflect floodplain features having different frictional properties to their surroundings, including urban features (such as buildings and roads) and taller vegetation features (such as trees and hedges). This allows a more accurate estimation of local friction. The method produces a substantial node density due to the small dimensions of many urban features. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.