Integrated Hydrologic-Hydrodynamic Inundation Modeling in a Groundwater Dependent Tropical Floodplain

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The rapid development of free and open-access hydrological models and coupling framework tools continues to present more opportunities for coupled model development for improved assessment of floodplain hydrology. In this study, we set up an Upper Zambezi hydrological model and a fully spatially hydrological-hydrodynamic coupled model for the Barotse Floodplain using GLOFRIM (GLObally applicable computational FRamework for Integrated hydrological– hydrodynamic Modelling). The hydrological and hydrodynamic models used are WFLOW and LISFLOOD-FP, respectively. The simulated flows generated by the wflow model for the upstream gauge stations before the Barotse Floodplain were quite similar and closely matched the observed flow as indicated by the evaluation statistics; Chavuma, nse = 0.738; kge = 0.738; pbias = 2.561 and RSR = 0.511; Watopa, nse = 0.684; kge = 0.816; pbias = 10.577 and RSR = 0.557; and Lukulu, nse = 0.736; kge = 0.795; pbias = 10.437 and RSR = 0.509. However, even though the wflow hydrological model was able to simulate the upstream hydrology very well, the results at the floodplain outlet gauge stations did not quite match the observed monthly flows at Senanga gauge station as indicated by the evaluation statistics: nse = 0.132; kge = 0.509; pbias = 37.740 and RSR = 0.9233. This is mainly because the representation of both floodplain channel hydrodynamics and vertical hydrological processes is necessary to correctly capture floodplain dynamics. Thus, the need for an approach that saves as a basis for developing fully spatially distributed coupled hydrodynamic and hydraulic models’ assessments for groundwater dependent tropical floodplains such as the Barotse floodplain, in closing the gap between hydrology and hydrodynamics in floodplain assessments. A fully coupled model has the potential to be used in implementing adaptive wetland management strategies for water resources allocation, environmental flow (eflows), flood control, land use and climate change impact assessments.