Natural Hazards

, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 1337–1358 | Cite as

A continuous simulation approach for the estimation of extreme flood inundation in coastal river reaches affected by meso- and macrotides

  • J. Sopelana
  • L. Cea
  • S. Ruano
Original Paper


Considering the joint probability of occurrence of high sea levels and river discharges, as well as the interactions between these sources of flooding, is of major importance to produce realistic inundation maps in river reaches affected by the sea level. In this paper, we propose a continuous simulation method for the estimation of extreme inundation in coastal river reaches. The methodology combines the generation of synthetic long-term daily time series of river discharge and sea level, the downscaling of daily values to a time resolution of a few minutes, the computation of inundation levels with an unsteady high-resolution two-dimensional model and the use of interpolation techniques to reconstruct long-term time series of water surface from a limited number of characteristic cases. The method is especially suitable for small catchments with times of concentration of a few hours, since it considers the intradiurnal variation of river discharge and sea level. The methodology was applied to the coastal town of Betanzos (NW of Spain), located at a river confluence strongly affected by the sea level. Depending on the return period and on the control point considered, the results obtained with the proposed methodology show differences up to 50 cm when compared with the standard methodology used in this region for the elaboration of flood hazard maps in accordance with the requirements of the European Directives. These results indicate the need for adaption of the standard methodology in order to produce more realistic results and a more efficient evaluation of flood hazard mitigation measures.


Extreme flooding Coastal river reach Continuous simulation Macrotidal estuary 2D flood inundation modelling 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Department of Water Planning Administration of the Galician Government (Xunta de Galicia) for providing the DSM of the Betanzos estuary, the data from the flow discharge gauging stations and the synthetic discharge series of the Mandeo River. The authors would also like to thank the Spanish harbour government agency “Puertos del Estado,” for the A Coruña tidal gauge data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aquática IngenieríaVigoSpain
  2. 2.Environmental and Water Engineering Group, Departamento de Ingeniería CivilUniversidade da CoruñaA CoruñaSpain
  3. 3.Universidade da CoruñaA CoruñaSpain

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