Mapping Dependence Between Extreme Rainfall and Storm Surge

Authors: Wenyan Wu and Kathleen Mcinnes and Julian O'grady and Ron Hoeke and Michael Leonard and Seth Westra
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Year: 2018

Dependence between extreme storm surge and rainfall can have significant implications for flood risk in coastal and estuarine regions. To supplement limited observational records, we use reanalysis surge data from a hydrodynamic model as the basis for dependence mapping, providing information at a resolution of approximately 30 km along the Australian coastline. We evaluated this approach by comparing the dependence estimates from modeled surge to that calculated using historical surge records from 79 tide gauges around Australia. The results show reasonable agreement between the two sets of dependence values, with the exception of lower seasonal variation in the modeled dependence values compared to the observed data, especially at locations where there are multiple processes driving extreme storm surge. This is due to the combined impact of local bathymetry as well as the resolution of the hydrodynamic model and its meteorological inputs. Meteorological drivers were also investigated for different combinations of extreme rainfall and surge—namely rain‐only, surge‐only, and coincident extremes—finding that different synoptic patterns are responsible for each combination. The ability to supplement observational records with high‐resolution modeled surge data enables a much more precise quantification of dependence along the coastline, strengthening the physical basis for assessments of flood risk in coastal regions.