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Title: Present and Future Flood Hazard in the Lower Columbia River Estuary: Changing Flood Hazards in the Portland‐Vancouver Metropolitan Area

Over the next century, model projections suggest that river run‑off in the Pacific Northwest will increase during the winter season and that sea‐level rise (SLR) may exceed a meter. To investigate the resulting changes in flood hazard, we numerically model the February 1996 and January 1923 floods (the largest and third‐largest Willamette River floods since 1900) under present and potential future run‐off and sea level scenarios. First, we reproduce the actual February 1996 flood to within a root‐mean‐square error of 0.05 m (N = 7) for peak water levels. Next, we run scenarios in which three SLR scenarios (0, 0.6, and 1.5 m) are combined with two river run‐off scenarios (0% and 10% run‐off increase). Then the slightly larger 1923 flood scenario is run, but with modern (higher than historical) Columbia River flow. The results indicate that a 10% increase in river run‐off increased the1996 flood magnitude by 0.78 m, while 1923 flow increases flood magnitude by 0.82 m. Overall, the type and magnitude of future flood hazards vary with reach. The Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan area is most sensitive to changes in run‐off, with a smaller change of ~0.2–0.26 m per meter of SLR. By contrast, coastal regions are quite sensitive to amplified sea level and exhibit nonlinear responses based on changes to river slope and tides. Between the fluvial region and the estuary, a region of compound flood hazard exists that is sensitive to changes in river discharge, sea level, tides, and storm surge.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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