Combining Water Fraction and DEM-Based Methods to Create a Coastal Flood Map: A Case Study of Hurricane Harvey


Tropical cyclones are incredibly destructive and deadly, inflicting immense losses to coastal properties and infrastructure. Hurricane-induced coastal floods are often the biggest threat to life and the coastal environment. A quick and accurate estimation of coastal flood extent is urgently required for disaster rescue and emergency response. In this study, a combined Digital Elevation Model (DEM) based water fraction (DWF) method was implemented to simulate coastal floods during Hurricane Harvey on the South Texas coast. Water fraction values were calculated to create a 15 km flood map from multiple channels of the Advanced Technology Microwave Sound dataset. Based on hydrological inundation mechanism and topographic information, the coarse-resolution flood map derived from water fraction values was then downscaled to a high spatial resolution of 10 m. To evaluate the DWF result, Storm Surge Hindcast product and flood-reported high-water-mark observations were used. The results indicated a high overlapping area between the DWF map and buffered flood-reported high-water-marks (HWMs), with a percentage of more than 85%. Furthermore, the correlation coefficient between the DWF map and CERA SSH product was 0.91, which demonstrates a strong linear relationship between these two maps. The DWF model has a promising capacity to create high-resolution flood maps over large areas that can aid in emergency response. The result generated here can also be useful for flood risk management, especially through risk communication. © 2019 by the authors.


Supplementary material is available.


Floods (Coastal), Digital elevation models, Hurricane Harvey, 2017


CC BY 4.0 (Attribution), ©2019 The Authors