Natural Hazards

, Volume 36, Issue 1–2, pp 103–123 | Cite as

National Floodplain Mapping: Datasets and Methods – 160,000 km in 12 months

  • Kate Bradbrook
  • Simon Waller
  • Dave Morris


This paper describes two projects requiring production of national floodplain maps for England and Wales – some 80,000 km of river. The novel solutions developed have brought together a national Digital Elevation Model (DEM), automatically-generated peak flow estimates at intervals along the watercourses and two alternative methods of calculating the outlines: normal depth calculation; and a purpose-built 2-dimensional raster-based floodplain model, JFLOW. The DEM was derived using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR) techniques and has a vertical precision of ±0.5 m–1.0 m (RMSE) and a 5 m horizontal resolution. The flow estimates were derived by automating Flood Estimation Handbook (FEH) techniques. The normal depth calculations are applied at a number of discrete cross-sections with linear interpolation between to form a 3-dimensional water surface. This is overlain on the DEM to produce the flood outline. Careful manual checking is required at a number of stages. The JFLOW model is based on a discretised form of the 2-dimensional diffusive wave equation and directly simulates the flood outline in a series of overlapping short (1 km) reaches. Flood outlines from the overlapping reaches are merged to produce the overall flood envelope. The model has been written to work as a screen-saver, allowing distributed processing across all computers in an office and manual intervention is minimal. In simple valley situations both methods give similar results, but show differences in more complex areas. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but both have been shown to be a practicable solution to allow production of 160,000 km of flood outline in 12 months.


automated floodplain mapping 2-dimensional raster model normal depth calculation flood estimation handbook synthetic aperture radar 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.JBA ConsultingNorth YorksUK
  2. 2.Centre for Ecology and HydrologyOxonUK

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