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Wasserwirtschaft und HydrosystemmodellierungUrban flash flood modelling based on merged rainfall satellite data - Application to Abidjan, Côte d’ Ivoire

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Urban flash flood modelling based on merged rainfall satellite data - Application to Abidjan, Côte d’ Ivoire

Project head
Prof. Dr.-Ing. R. Hinkelmann
Scientific assistant
Gogoua Habib Gogoua, M.Sc.
Project period
April 2020 – March 2023
Institut National Polytechnic Felix Houphouet Boigny (INP-HB) of Cote d’Ivoire


Flash floods are among the most destructive natural hazards in the world. Flash floods can occur in urban areas after short-lasting severe rainfalls, causing severe consequences such as losses of human life, damage on infrastructures, disruption of services and losses in economics activities. Flash floods in urban areas take place when during an intense rainfall activity, the sewage and the drainage system are swamped, and the overflowing water saturates the streets. In low income countries, urban flash flood is intensified by non-controlled urbanisation where low lying areas and different kinds of depression which are supposed to soak up the excess water are filled up and constructed.

Flash flooding has grown into a serious problem in the metropolitan city of Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire) during the last decades. The city has been flooded frequently during the last years with lot of economic and human losses. In 2014, 23 persons died; in 2015, 16 persons died; in 2017, 15 persons died and in 2018, 17 persons died during the flood events.

Abijan, June 2017(left) June 2018(right)

The aim of this research is to investigate the skill of hydrological and hydraulic model combination and merged satellite rainfall data in forecasting urban flood over a tropical catchment characterized by scarce ground-based observations. The framework will be based on bias-corrected merged satellite data and hydrological model (HEC-HMS) and a robust 2-D shallow water model (hms) under limited past storm events and post-event measurements. The research is applied to the urban catchment of the metropolitan city of Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire).

The research should answer the following questions?

  • What are the differences between satellite-based rainfall estimates and the rain gauge-based estimates in the city of Abidjan?
  • What is the appropriate correction scheme to reduce the bias and merged satellite-based rainfall estimates for hydrological and hydraulic model computation with scarce rain gauge data? 
  • What is the performance of the hydrological and hydraulic model combination in urban flood modelling using different sources of rainfall to delineate flash flood prone area?
  • What is the accuracy of difference sources of rainfall in urban flood forecasting and early warning system development?
  • What are the adaptation measures which can be investigated for flood forecasting in the city of Abidjan?

Study Area

Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

The study will be carried out over the metropolitan city of Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire). The district of Abidjan is located in the south of Cote d’Ivoire between latitudes of 5° 10′ and 5° 38′ North and longitudes of 3° 4′ and 5° 21′ West and covers an area of approximately 2,119 km2.



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