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Computational and Stochastic Methods for Characterizing Joint Flood Hazards under Extreme Hurricane Events

October 06, 2016
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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Dr. Jacob M. Torres
LAN – Lockwood , Andrews & Newman Inc., College Station, TX

Senior Project Engineer – Hydrology and Water Resources


In the United States, coastal flood risk management is traditionally predicated on protecting against extreme hurricane-induced storm surge – expressed as annualized return periods. However, (1) hurricane storm surge and (2) hurricane rainfall-runoff are not mutually exclusive coastal flood hazards. Little research has emphasized the need for characterizing the joint physical processes of storm surge and rainfall and how this affects our understanding of the coastal hydrologic landscape as it relates to flood risk management and resiliency in the natural and built environment. To this end, this talk will discuss the development, calibration, and implementation of coupled numerical models for providing in-depth hydrologic analyses at the land-sea interface resulting from discrete-event hurricane simulations. These include a (1) distributed hydrologic model for simulating large-scale watershed response from hurricane rainfall events; a (2) finite element hydrodynamic model that couples Simulating WAves Nearshore with ADvanced CIRCulation (SWAN+ADCIRC) for quantifying storm surge and wave dynamics; and an (3) unsteady riverine hydraulic model for associating storm surge and rainfall-runoff momentum interactions. Model domain applications are focused on the Galveston Bay region in Texas, but the framework can be extended to other coastal-riverine environments. Deterministic and stochastic findings reveal how, for a given location, hurricanes producing relatively little storm surge but high rainfall can be comparable in flood potential to the inverse scenario of hurricanes producing high storm surge and little rainfall. This can be owed to heterogeneous topologies of coastal watershed boundaries and variable hurricane landfall locations. An important application of these findings is the development of accurate flood risk maps in both the natural and built coastal environments. Future work will extend these insights to other locations and include probabilistic tools for supporting engineering design.


Dr. Torres is a Senior Project Engineer with Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. in the College Station office. He completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University in May 2016. His research involves the investigation of the combined flood risks from storm surge and upland rainfall-runoff for coastal watersheds. His research tools include computational and statistical methods for simulating extreme coastal flood events and predicting deterministic and stochastic hydrologic responses at the land-sea interface. Other aspects of Dr. Torres’s research involve investigating the influence of pipe network topology on hydraulic and water quality performances for water distribution systems by combining physics-based models using EPANET, graph theory, and statistical models. Dr. Torres is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas with seven years of industry engineering experience encompassing the areas of urban storm water management, surface water hydrology and riverine hydraulics, water distribution system planning, and hydraulic transient studies.


Dr. Francisco Olivera: folivera@civil.tamu.edu


October 6, 2016
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


O&M Building, Room 110