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  1. Many radar-gauge merging methods have been developed to produce improved rainfall data by leveraging the advantages of gauge and radar observations. Two popular merging methods, Regression Kriging and Bayesian Regression Kriging were utilized and compared in this study to produce hourly rainfall data from gauge networks and multi-source radar datasets. The authors collected, processed, and modeled the gauge and radar rainfall data (Stage IV, MRMS and RTMA radar data) of the two extreme storm events (i.e., Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019) occurring in the coastal area in Southeast Texas with devastating flooding. The analysis of the modeled data on consideration of statistical metrics, physical rationality, and computational expenses, implies that while both methods can effectively improve the radar rainfall data, the Regression Kriging model demonstrates its superior performance over that of the Bayesian Regression Kriging model since the latter is found to be prone to overfitting issues due to the clustered gauge distributions. Moreover, the spatial resolution of rainfall data is found to affect the merging results significantly, where the Bayesian Regression Kriging model works unskillfully when radar rainfall data with a coarser resolution is used. The study recommends the use of high-quality radar datamore »with properly spatial-interpolated gauge data to improve the radar-gauge merging methods. The authors believe that the findings of the study are critical for assisting hazard mitigation and future design improvement.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  3. Numerous algorithms have been developed to automate the process of delineating water surface maps for flood monitoring and mitigation purposes by using multiple sources such as satellite sensors and digital elevation model (DEM) data. To better understand the causes of inaccurate mapping information, we aim to demonstrate the advantages and limitations of these algorithms through a case study of the 2022 Madagascar flooding event. The HYDRAFloods toolbox was used to perform preprocessing, image correction, and automated flood water detection based on the state-of-the-art Edge Otsu, Bmax Otsu, and Fuzzy Otsu algorithms for the satellite images; the FwDET tool was deployed upon the cloud computing platform (Google Earth Engine) for rapid estimation of flood area/depth using the digital elevation model (DEM) data. Generated surface water maps from the respective techniques were evaluated qualitatively against each other and compared with a reference map produced by the European Union Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS). The DEM-based maps show generally overestimated flood extents. The satellite-based maps show that Edge Otsu and Bmax Otsu methods are more likely to generate consistent results than those from Fuzzy Otsu. While the synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) data are typically favorable over the optical image under undesired weather conditions, mapsmore »generated based on SAR data tend to underestimate the flood extent as compared with reference maps. This study also suggests the newly launched Landsat-9 serves as an essential supplement to the rapid delineation of flood extents.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  4. Heavy rainfall leads to severe flooding problems with catastrophic socio-economic impacts worldwide. Hydrologic forecasting models have been applied to provide alerts of extreme flood events and reduce damage, yet they are still subject to many uncertainties due to the complexity of hydrologic processes and errors in forecasted timing and intensity of the floods. This study demonstrates the efficacy of using eXtreme Gradient Boosting (XGBoost) as a state-of-the-art machine learning (ML) model to forecast gauge stage levels at a 5-min interval with various look-out time windows. A flood alert system (FAS) built upon the XGBoost models is evaluated by two historical flooding events for a flood-prone watershed in Houston, Texas. The predicted stage values from the FAS are compared with observed values with demonstrating good performance by statistical metrics (RMSE and KGE). This study further compares the performance from two scenarios with different input data settings of the FAS: (1) using the data from the gauges within the study area only and (2) including the data from additional gauges outside of the study area. The results suggest that models that use the gauge information within the study area only (Scenario 1) are sufficient and advantageous in terms of their accuracy inmore »predicting the arrival times of the floods. One of the benefits of the FAS outlined in this study is that the XGBoost-based FAS can run in a continuous mode to automatically detect floods without requiring an external starting trigger to switch on as usually required by the conventional event-based FAS systems. This paper illustrates a data-driven FAS framework as a prototype that stakeholders can utilize solely based on their gauging information for local flood warning and mitigation practices.« less
  5. Wastewater-based epidemiology has played a significant role in monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, yet little is known about degradation of SARS-CoV-2 in sewer networks. Here, we used advanced sewershed modeling software to simulate SARS-CoV-2 RNA degradation in sewersheds across Houston, TX under various temperatures and decay rates. Moreover, a novel metric, population times travel time ( PT ), was proposed to identify localities with a greater likelihood of undetected COVID-19 outbreaks and to aid in the placement of upstream samplers. Findings suggest that travel time has a greater influence on RNA degradation across the sewershed as compared to temperature. SARS-CoV-2 RNA degradation at median travel times was approximately two times greater in 20 °C wastewater between the small sewershed, Chocolate Bayou, and the larger sewershed, 69th Street. Lastly, placement of upstream samplers according to the PT metric can provide a more representative snapshot of disease incidence in large sewersheds. This study helps to elucidate discrepancies between SARS-CoV-2 viral load in wastewater and clinical incidence of COVID-19. Incorporating travel time and SARS-CoV-2 RNA decay can improve wastewater surveillance efforts.
  6. As much as 3.05 m of land subsidence was observed in 1979 in the Houston-Galveston region as a result primarily of inelastic compaction of aquitards in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers between 1937 and 1979. The preconsolidation pressure heads for aquitards within these two aquifers were continuously updated in response to lowering groundwater levels, which in turn was caused by continuously increasing groundwater withdrawal rates from 0.57 to 4.28 million m3/day. This land subsidence occurred without any management of changes in groundwater levels. However, the management of recovering groundwater levels from 1979 to 2000 successfully decreased inelastic compaction from about 40 mm/yr in the early 1980s to zero around 2000 through decreasing groundwater withdrawal rates from 4.3 to 3.0 million m3/day. The inelastic consolidation that had existed for about 63 years roughly from 1937 to 2000 caused a land subsidence hazard in this region. Some rebounding of the land surface was achieved from groundwater level recovering management. It is found in this paper that subsidence of 0.08 to 8.49 mm/yr owing to a pseudo-constant secondary consolidation rate emerged or tended to emerge at 13 borehole extensometer station locations while the groundwater levels in the two aquifers were being managed. Itmore »is considered to remain stable in trend since 2000. The subsidence due to the secondary consolidation is beyond the control of any groundwater level change management schemes because it is caused by geo-historical overburden pressure on the two aquifers. The compaction measurements collected from the 13 extensometers since 1971 not only successfully corroborate the need for groundwater level change management in controlling land subsidence but also yield the first empirical findings of the occurrence of secondary consolidation subsidence in the Quaternary and Tertiary aquifer systems in the Houston-Galveston region.« less