Assessment of Columbia and Willamette River Flood Stage on the Columbia Corridor Levee System at Portland, Oregon, in a Future Climate

Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5161
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Levee Ready Columbia
By: , and 

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Abstract

To support Levee Ready Columbia’s (LRC’s) effort to re-certify levees along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and remain accredited, two 2-dimensional hydraulic models, Adaptive Hydraulics and Delft3D-Flexible Mesh, were used to simulate the effects of plausible extreme high water during the 2030 to 2059 period. The Columbia River was simulated from Bonneville Dam, situated at river mile (RM) 145, to the mouth of Columbia River, and the Willamette River was simulated from Willamette Falls, RM 26.2, to the Columbia River confluence. Inputs to the models included light detection and ranging (lidar) and bathymetric mapping data to determine bed level, and boundary conditions in the form of daily inflow hydrographs and water levels in the ocean offshore of the mouth of the Columbia River.

Future conditions were based on climate science data developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others. These conditions included future streamflow and coastal ocean water levels. The hypothetical, extreme but plausible, upstream boundary was based on scaling up the hydrographs from the 1996 flood. Scaling factors were determined by comparing the peak flow rankings determined from flood frequency analyses of historical unregulated periods and 2040s simulated unregulated winter streamflow. The comparison resulted in scaling up the Columbia River hydrograph by 40-percent and scaling up the Willamette River and Lower Columbia River tributaries hydrographs by 20-percent. The downstream ocean boundary was based on a combination of sea-level change, high tide, and storm surge.

The models were calibrated for two historical periods: (1) from January 15 to February 28, 1996, and (2) from April 12 to July 12, 1997. The two models compared well to the measured water-surface elevation over the historical periods and had good performance statistics, with root-mean square error ranging from 0.085 to 0.32 meters, Nash-Sutcliffe values greater than 0.96, and bias ranging from -0.03 to 0.28 meters. The simulated peak stage in the Columbia River at Vancouver, Washington, for 1996 was 9.60 and 9.98 meters (31.5 and 32.7 feet) compared to the measured peak of 9.89 meters (32.5 feet). Future peak stage then was simulated with boundary conditions representing extreme but plausible future conditions at the inflow sites and the ocean boundary.

The two calibrated models compared well in their simulations of extreme but plausible future conditions. For the 0-meter sea-level change scenario, the simulated peak stage in the Columbia River at Vancouver was 11.15 and 11.39 meters (36.6 and 37.4 feet); and for the 1-meter sea-level change scenario, the simulated peak stage in the Columbia River was 11.25 and 11.54 meters (36.9 and 37.9 feet). The total increase in stage as compared to the 1996 measured peak stage ranged from 1.26 to 1.65 meters (4.13 to 5.40 feet).

Suggested Citation

Wherry, S.A., Wood, T.M., Moritz, H.R., and Duffy, K.B., 2019, Assessment of Columbia and Willamette River flood stage on the Columbia Corridor Levee System at Portland, Oregon, in a future climate: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5161, 44 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20185161.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Significant Findings
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Historical Simulations
  • Future Climate Scenarios
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Assessment of Columbia and Willamette River flood stage on the Columbia Corridor Levee System at Portland, Oregon, in a future climate
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2018-5161
DOI 10.3133/sir20185161
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Oregon Water Science Center
Description vii, 44 p.
Country United States
State Oregon
City Portland
Online Only (Y/N) Y