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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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For the Instructor

This material supports the Flood Hazards GETSI Module. If you would like your students to have access to this material, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing GETSI teaching materials.

Welcome Students!

Flooding is an essential component of natural riverine ecosystems, yet is one of the most damaging and frequent natural hazards throughout the world. In this module, you will be introduced to 1) the physical concepts of flooding and its impact on natural environment and humans, 2) methods to estimate flood frequency, 3) using lidar data to compute hydraulic properties of streams, 4) hydraulic modeling tools (HEC-RAS software) to map flood-prone areas for different return periods, and 5) translating these probabilities and flow rates to flood risk for actual towns. This module is intended for upper level geosciences and engineering students.

By the end of the module you will be able to:

  1. Describe flooding and its role as natural process versus hazard
  2. Apply probability concepts to determine relationships between flow rates and return periods
  3. Create flood inundation maps for a given flow rate using a hydraulic model
  4. Translate flood occurrence to societal risk and propose mitigation strategies

Unit 1: Introduction to Flooding

In this unit, you will learn about the concept of flooding and the mechanisms that cause different types of floods in natural and urban environments. You will interpret annual maximum flow series to relate the magnitude of past flow events to their frequency and explore different datasets to describe the magnitude of flood, its spatial extent in the form of a map and its socio/economic impacts.

Unit 2: Flood Frequency Analysis

This unit introduces the statistical concepts that are used to determine the relationships between peak flow magnitude, return periods, and societal risk. After this unit, you will be intimately familiar with terms like "100-year flood" and they understand how these estimates are obtained. You will also learn the vocabulary and techniques associated with flood frequency analysis (FFA) and then conduct an FFA on a new river situation.

Unit 3: Channel Capacity and Manning's Equation

A flood occurs when the flow rate in a river exceeds the capacity of a channel to transmit water downstream within its banks. How much water can a channel transmit? Answering this question requires measurements of channel and floodplain topography and vegetation, coupled with application of the physics of flow in channels. These complex concepts are embodied in the well-known Manning's Equation. In this unit, students evaluate the geometry of river channels and floodplains using lidar-derived data and compute the depths and velocities of flow rates within channels using Manning's equation.

Unit 4: Hydraulic Modeling and Flood Inundation Mapping using HEC-RAS

The flow or discharge value in a river does not mean much to a lay person or a decision maker because this flow can be insignificant on a big river or can be dangerous on a small creek. Thus we must know how to translate this flow value into the water depth, velocity and the corresponding extent to understand its impact. The objective of this unit is to perform hydraulic modeling on a reach of Wabash River near Lafayette, Indiana to estimate water surface elevation and extent corresponding to a 100 year flow. You will learn the basics of hydraulic modeling using HEC-RAS to simulate the flow hydraulics using one-dimensional steady state assumption. The outcome will be the inundation extent corresponding to the 100-year event along the reach of the Wabash River near Lafayette, IN. You will be using the freely available software flood modeling software HEC-RAS (Hydrologic Engineering Center's River Analysis System). It may be available for you on school computers or your instructor may ask you to install in on your own Windows-based machine.

  • Tutorial: HEC-RAS Modeling and RAS Mapper Tutorial (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 5.8MB Dec6 19) - This tutorial includes instructions to complete the HEC-RAS student exercise. Students must be provided with the data before they can begin the lab. The link to the data is given below.
  • Student exercise

Unit 5: Mapping the Impact of 100 and 500-year Floods

Most often we characterize floods based on their return periods. Considering new land developments and the changing climate, what was once a 100-year flood may change over time. Thus, if we are going to experience the previously defined 100-year flood more frequently, the new 100-year flood may be what was a 500-year flood before. One may then wonder what will be the impact of this 500 year flood compared to a 100 year flood? Is it five times bigger and more damaging than a 100 year flood? The goal of this Unit 5 is let students quantify floods for 100 and 500 year return periods, and map the corresponding flood inundation extents. You will then use these results to see how the flood magnitude and the inundation area changes for these floods. The final inundation maps can also be used to estimate key infrastructure that may be vulnerable.

  • Student exercise
    • Unit 5 Student Assignment (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 207kB Dec6 19) - This file contains the student exercise for this unit, including the template for the report
    • Unit 5 Student Assignment Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 17kB Jan8 19) - This explains how your assignment will be graded.
  • Data files
    • Unit 5 Study Area Descriptions (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 2.9MB Dec6 19)
      • This file contains information related to each study reach for hydraulic modeling and flood inundation mapping
    • Study sites - your instructor will tell you which of these sites to use

     

This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »