A subgrid channel model for simulating river hydraulics and floodplain inundation over large and data sparse areas
Article first published online: 7 NOV 2012
©2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Water Resources Research
Volume 48, Issue 11, November 2012
How to Cite
2012), A subgrid channel model for simulating river hydraulics and floodplain inundation over large and data sparse areas, Water Resour. Res., 48, W11506, doi:10.1029/2012WR012514., , and (
- Issue published online: 7 NOV 2012
- Article first published online: 7 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 25 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 24 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 7 JUN 2012
- River Niger;
- hydraulic modeling;
- subgrid model
 This paper presents a new computationally efficient hydraulic model for simulating the spatially distributed dynamics of water surface elevation, wave speed, and inundation extent over large data sparse domains. The numerical scheme is based on an extension of the hydraulic model LISFLOOD-FP to include a subgrid-scale representation of channelized flows, which allows river channels with any width below that of the grid resolution to be simulated. The scheme is shown to be numerically stable and scalable, before being applied to an 800 km reach of the river Niger in Mali. The Niger application focused on the performance of four different model structures: a model without channels (two-dimensional (2-D) model), a model without a floodplain (one-dimensional (1-D) model), a model of the main channels and floodplain (1-D/2-D model), and the subgrid approach developed here. Inclusion of both the channel network and the floodplain was shown to be essential, meaning that large scale models of this region, including routing models for land surface schemes, will require a floodplain component. Including subgrid-scale channels on the floodplain changed inundation dynamics over the delta significantly and increased simulation accuracy in terms of water level, wave propagation speed, and inundation extent. Furthermore, only the subgrid model showed a consistent parameterization when calibrated against either gauge or ICESat water level data, suggesting that connectivity provided by small channels is a strong control on the hydraulics of the floodplain, or, at the very least, that low resolution gridded hydraulic models require additional connectivity to represent the delta flow dynamics.