EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Compound flooding due to interaction of waves and river discharge at Breede Estuary, South Africa

Sunna Kupfer1, Sara Santamaria-Aguilar1, Lara van Niekerk2,3, Melanie Lück-Vogel2,4, and Athanasios T. Vafeidis1
Sunna Kupfer et al.
  • 1Kiel University, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Geography, Kiel, Germany (
  • 2Council for Scientific and Industrial Research CSIR, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • 3Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
  • 4Department for Geography and Environmental Studies, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Recent studies on compound flooding have considered the interaction of storm surge and fluvial or pluvial flood drivers, whereas the contribution of waves to compound flooding has so far been neglected. In this study, we assess compound flooding from waves, tides and river discharge at Breede Estuary, South Africa, using a hydrodynamic model. We estimate the contribution of extreme waves to compound flooding by analysing the driver interactions and by quantifying changes in flood characteristics. We further consider the effect of waves on flood timing and compare results of compound flood scenarios to scenarios in which single drivers are omitted. We find that flood characteristics are more sensitive to river discharge than to waves, particularly when the latter only coincide with high spring tides. When interacting with river discharge, however, the contribution of waves is high, causing larger flood extents and higher water depths. With more extreme waves, flooding can begin up to 12 hours earlier. Our findings provide insights on the magnitude and timing of compound flooding in an open South African estuary and demonstrate the need to account for the effects of waves during compound flooding in future flood impact assessments of similar coastal settings with similar wave climates.

How to cite: Kupfer, S., Santamaria-Aguilar, S., van Niekerk, L., Lück-Vogel, M., and Vafeidis, A. T.: Compound flooding due to interaction of waves and river discharge at Breede Estuary, South Africa, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1222,, 2022.