JDR Vol.7 No.5 pp. 573-581
doi: 10.20965/jdr.2012.p0573


Impact of Climate and Land Use Changes on the Flood Hazard of the Middle Brahmaputra Reach, India

Subashisa Dutta and Shyamal Ghosh

Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati), Guwahati-781039, Assam, India

July 11, 2012
September 8, 2012
October 1, 2012
climate change, land use, flood hazard, flood vulnerability, brahmaputra

Being the highest specific discharge river in the world, the Brahmaputra has a large floodplain area of 700 km in length in its middle reaches falling in the high flood vulnerability category. Floods generated in upland Himalayan catchments are mainly controlled by land use and land cover, storm characteristics, and vegetation dynamics. Floods propagate through a floodplain region consisting of wetlands, paddy agriculture, and wide braided river reaches with natural constraint points (nodals) that make the reaches more vulnerable to flood hazards. In this study, a macroscale distributed hydrological model was used to obtain the flood characteristics of the reaches. A hydrological model with spatially distributed input parameters and meteorological data was simulated at (1 km × 1 km) spatial grids to estimate flood hydrographs at the main river and itsmajor tributaries. Aftermodel validation, “best guess” land use change scenarios were used to estimate potential changes in flood characteristics. Results show that at the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra, peak discharge increases by a maximum of 9% for land use change scenarios. The same model with bias-corrected climatological data from a regional climate model (RCM) simulation (PRECIS) was used to obtain future changes in flood generation and its propagation through the basin in the projected climatological scenario. Changes in flood characteristics with reference to the baseline period show that the average duration of flood waves will increase from 15.2 days in the baseline period (1961-1990) to 19.3 days in the future (2071-2100). Peak discharge will increase by an average of 21% in the future in the projected climate change scenario. After statistics on changes of flood characteristics in the projected climate change scenario (2071-2100) were obtained, a 2-dimensional hydrodynamic model was used to obtain flood inundation and velocity distribution on the floodplain. Distribution of velocity and inundation depth was spatially analyzed to obtain flood hazard zones in the projected climate change scenario. Results show that spatial variation in flood hazard zones will be significantly altered in the projected climate change scenario compared to land use/land cover changes.

Cite this article as:
Subashisa Dutta and Shyamal Ghosh, “Impact of Climate and Land Use Changes on the Flood Hazard of the Middle Brahmaputra Reach, India,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.7, No.5, pp. 573-581, 2012.
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