EGU24-20304, updated on 11 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Asssessing the impacts of extreme rainfall on urban transport: a complex systems approach

Alistair Ford1, Yimeng Liu2, Richard Dawson1, and Saini Yang2
Alistair Ford et al.
  • 1Newcastle University, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Engineering, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (
  • 2Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

Extreme rainfall causes disruption and damage to urban transport networks through flooding, resulting in economic impacts for residents and businesses. The impact of such extreme weather events is the result of a complex interaction between the hazard (shaped by the nature of the rainfall and urban characteristics such as topography and land-use), exposure (the spatial and temporal intersection of the flood footprint with urban infrastructure and assets), and vulnerability (the ability of those assets and their users to cope with the level of flooding).

This paper demonstrates a complex systems approach to understand the role of these three components of the impact on urban transport systems by dynamically coupling a hydrodynamic flood model (such as CADDIES 2D or CityCAT) with an agent-based transport model (SUMO). By simulating a range of extreme rainfall events at a range of times of day, the modelling approach allows quantification of the scale of the impact (both direct and indirect) and assessment of adaptation options to reduce the disruption. Inclusion of coupled dynamic models allows the exploration of both hard, including engineered and nature-based approaches, and soft measures such as early warning and home working. This allows for a more-complete cost-benefit analysis of interventions and understanding of their effectiveness.

The modelling approach is demonstrated for a range of extreme rainfall events on commuting journeys on the road network in the city of Beijing, China. The results show that whilst grey and green approaches to adaptation can reduce the impact of extreme rainfall on the transport network, the benefits of soft measures, such as demand reduction by increased home working, are greater. Such soft measures also have additional co-benefits for reduction in emissions from transport, and potentially a lower implementation cost. Only by considering these interactions in a complex systems approach can such an assessment be undertaken.


How to cite: Ford, A., Liu, Y., Dawson, R., and Yang, S.: Asssessing the impacts of extreme rainfall on urban transport: a complex systems approach, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-20304,, 2024.