The University of Sheffield
Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

Understanding Urban Flooding Using Physical Modelling

Supervisor: Dr James Shucksmith

The increased frequency and magnitude of worldwide flood events in recent years has encouraged a critical examination of possible causes and suitable options to reduce impacts. Urban flooding may occur when storm water exceeds the capacity of the local sewer or storm water system. Dual drainage hydraulic models have been developed to assess the risks associated with urban flooding, namely the potential damage to property and infrastructure and to supply information for decision makers. Such modelling tools use steady state linking discharge equations to enable the coupling of below-ground pipe flow and free surface flow at nodes representing manholes/gullies State-of-the-art dual drainage models couple 1D (one-dimensional) sewer network flow models to 2D floodplain model utilising weir or orifice equations to describe flow exchange between the surface and sewer systems. However the uncertain nature of flood events and the difficulties in obtaining data at suitable spatial and temporal resolutions at a field site make full scale calibration and verification of such models very difficult. This shortcoming introduces uncertainties into model parameters and flood modelling predictions. This project will involve experimental work using a unique surface/subsurface scale model of an urban drainage facility within the water laboratory. Students working on this project will utilise state of the art measuring techniques such as PIV to obtain new datasets describing flows in and around interface points. It is hoped that this project will lead to a more reliable methodology to describe surface/sewer flow interactions during flood events, reducing the uncertainty inherent within flood model predictions.

This project is NOT FUNDED, although Departmental/University scholarships are available for applicants who can demonstrate strong evidence of research potential.