Water Resources Research Report



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An original modeling framework (DYHAM) for assessment of climate variation and change impacts on the performance of complex flood protection system has been developed and tested using the Red River basin (Manitoba) as a case study. Modeling framework allows for evaluation of different climate change scenarios generated by the global climate models. Temperature and precipitation are used as the main factors affecting flood flow generation. System dynamics modeling approach proved to be of great value in the development of system performance assessment model.

The most important impact of climate variability and change on hydrologic processes is reflected in the change of flood patterns: flood starting time, peak value and timing. Floods in the Red River basin generally occur in spring when the increase in temperature initiates snowmelt that usually coincides with heavy rain. In this study more than 90% of floods (at Shellmouth reservoir on the Assiniboine River and at Ste. Agathe on the Red River) generated using three different climate models started earlier in March and April. We conclude that the increase in temperature from climate variation and change results in an earlier flood starting time in the Red River basin.

The DYHAM assessment of the performance of Red River flood protection system is based on the flood flows, the capacity of flood control structures and failure flow levels at different locations in the basin. In the Assiniboine River basin, higher reliabilities at downstream locations are obtained indicating that Shellmouth reservoir plays an important role in reducing downstream flooding. However, a different trend was identified in the Red River basin. The study results show that flood protection capacity of the Red River infrastructure is sufficient under low reliability criteria but may not be sufficient under high reliability criteria.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Western Ontario


London, Ontario, Canada


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Report no.: 38

Assessment of the Impact of Climate Variability and Change on the Reliability, Resiliency and Vulnerability of Complex Flood Protection Systems