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Low Impact Development Measures Spatial Arrangement for Urban Flood Mitigation: An Exploratory Optimal Framework based on Source Tracking


Urban areas are vulnerable to flooding as a result of climate change and rapid urbanization and thus flood losses are becoming increasingly severe. Low impact development (LID) measures are a storm management technique designed for controlling runoff in urban areas, which is critical for solving urban flood hazard. Therefore, this study developed an exploratory simulation–optimization framework for the spatial arrangement of LID measures. The proposed framework begins by applying a numerical model to simulate hydrological and hydrodynamic processes during a storm event, and the urban flood model coupled with the source tracking method was then used to identify the flood source areas. Next, based on source tracking data, the LID investment in each catchment was determined using the inundation volume contribution ratio of the flood source area (where most of the investment is required) to the flood hazard area (where most of the flooding occurs). Finally, the resiliency and sustainability of different LID scenarios were evaluated using several different storm events in order to provide suggestions for flooding prediction and the decision-making process. The results of this study emphasized the importance of flood source control. Furthermore, to quantitatively evaluate the impact of inundation volume transport between catchments on the effectiveness of LID measures, a regional relevance index (RI) was proposed to analyze the spatial connectivity between different regions. The simulation–optimization framework was applied to Haikou City, China, wherein the results indicated that LID measures in a spatial arrangement based on the source tracking method are a robust and resilient solution to flood mitigation. This study demonstrates the novelty of combining the source tracking method and highlights the spatial connectivity between flood source areas and flood hazard areas.

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source tracking process in urban watershed

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source area inundation volume contribution to hazard area under design return periods

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Availability of Data and Materials

The data and code that support the study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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This study is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51679156).

Author information




Conceptualization and Methodology: C. Ma, W. Qi; Writing-original draft: W. Qi; Material preparation and analysis: H. X, Z. C, K. Z; Simulation: H. H; Funding acquisition: C. Ma.

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Correspondence to Chao Ma.

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Qi, W., Ma, C., Xu, H. et al. Low Impact Development Measures Spatial Arrangement for Urban Flood Mitigation: An Exploratory Optimal Framework based on Source Tracking. Water Resour Manage 35, 3755–3770 (2021).

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  • Low impact development
  • Regional relevance
  • Source tracking
  • Spatial arrangement
  • Urban flood model