The influence of digital elevation model resolution on overland flow networks for modelling urban pluvial flooding

Water Sci Technol. 2009;60(12):3137-49. doi: 10.2166/wst.2009.754.


This paper presents the developments towards the next generation of overland flow modelling of urban pluvial flooding. Using a detailed analysis of the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) the developed GIS tools can automatically generate surface drainage networks which consist of temporary ponds (floodable areas) and flow paths and link them with the underground network through inlets. For different commercially-available Rainfall-Runoff simulation models, the tool will generate the overland flow network needed to model the surface runoff and pluvial flooding accurately. In this paper the emphasis is placed on a sensitivity analysis of ponds and preferential overland flow paths creation. Different DEMs for three areas were considered in order to compare the results obtained. The DEMs considered were generated using different acquisition techniques and hence represent terrain with varying levels of resolution and accuracy. The results show that DEMs can be used to generate surface flow networks reliably. As expected, the quality of the surface network generated is highly dependent on the quality and resolution of the DEMs and successful representation of buildings and streets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation*
  • Drainage, Sanitary / methods*
  • Floods*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Portugal
  • United Kingdom
  • Urbanization*
  • Water Movements