EGU23-12397, updated on 10 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Pluvial flooding in urbanscapes: a full-coupled flood modelling approach

Paolo Tamagnone, Guy Schumann, and Ben Suttor
Paolo Tamagnone et al.
  • Research and Education Department, RSS-Hydro, Dudelange, Luxembourg (

Are your properties located far enough from rivers, sea shorelines or water bodies? If the answer is yes, this does not mean that they are fully safe from flooding.

In an era governed by continuous climate instability and unstoppable expansion of cities, the exacerbation of hydrometeorological events is increasing the occurrence of pluvial floods. Pluvial flooding is induced by the combination of two factors: extreme precipitations and the incapability of the ground/drainage systems to effectively handle excessive rainwater.

In an urban environment, the runoff generated by localized and intense rainstorms may quickly inundate streets and buildings undermining the safety of people and assets. The characteristic of being hardly predictable has inspired the definition of pluvial flood as an ‘invisible hazard’ and the related damages and losses are increasingly weighing on the budget of municipalities and private citizens.

Looking at the upsetting climate projections, experts are resolute in developing comprehensive methodologies and strategies for flood risk assessment and management.

In this work, we present the attempt of accomplishing a high-resolution pluvial flood risk assessment at the city scale. The city of Differdange (Luxembourg's third largest city) is used as case study in which the extreme rainfall-related impacts and hazards are analyzed through the implementation of a fully coupled 1D/2D dual drainage model. This type of hydrodynamic model closely mimics the complexity of an urban landscape allowing to simulate all hydraulic phenomena occurring both on the surface and through the sewer network. Despite the digital accuracy of these models, they are rarely implemented due to the vast amount of detailed information required; which are often unavailable.

The implementation of the hydraulic model follows two main steps: the bi-dimensional discretization of the surface and the 1D modelling of the whole drainage network.

Nowadays, many countries provide open-access high-resolution digital elevation models of their territories (50 cm for Luxembourg) and up-to-date cadastral planimetries from which essential information for the 2D component are extrapolated. Ground data is enriched by land use/cover and soil maps for the estimation of roughness and infiltration parameters.

The drainage network contemplates all pipes carrying rainwater, meaning the newer storm-water system and the old combined sewer network. The geometric specifications required are size, shape, elevation, material of pipes, manholes and tanks. Important infrastructures, such as flooding barriers, have been systematically added to the model.


The fully-distributed hydrological engine allows operating the rainfall-runoff transformation on each cell of the domain and the exchange of water between the surface and drainage network occurs through the nodes of the network (storm drains and manholes).

The model’s outcomes allow for assessing the level of hazard to which each building is exposed, identifying the critical nodes within the drainage network, and proposing mitigation strategies.

Furthermore, these insights may help authorities to improve their warning systems and emergency plans.

How to cite: Tamagnone, P., Schumann, G., and Suttor, B.: Pluvial flooding in urbanscapes: a full-coupled flood modelling approach, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-12397,, 2023.