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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • flooding;
  • floodplain mapping;
  • simulation

Laforce, Serge, Marie-Claude Simard, Robert Leconte, and François Brissette, 2011. Climate Change and Floodplain Delineation in Two Southern Quebec River Basins. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 47(4):785-799. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00560.x

Abstract:  A methodology is presented for mapping the flooded extent of rivers under projected climate change. The methodology follows a top-down modeling approach, where future climate projections generated by global climate models (GCMs) are downscaled to the watershed scale and used as input to hydrological and hydrodynamic models for predicting future river flows and associated open water levels. A range of possible future climate responses are taken into account, allowing quantification of flood-mapping uncertainties resulting from GCM structure and greenhouse gas emission scenarios (GHGES). Probabilistic projections of future flood zones are developed by assuming that all GCMs and GHGES be equally weighted. The proposed methodology was applied to two river basins located in southern Quebec, Canada, for the time horizons 2020 and 2080. Twenty- and hundred-year floods were computed and corresponding flood maps have been produced. Results indicate that there is a general trend toward an increased spring peak discharge for the Châteauguay River Basin and a decrease for the du Nord River Basin at the 2020 horizon. A less obvious trend was observed for the 2080 horizon, some GCM-GHGES producing an increase in spring peak flows, whereas others would result in a less severe spring flood. These uncertainties in flood flows have cascaded into uncertainties in the corresponding flooded extent and represented as probabilistic flood maps.