Improving Storm Surge Hazard Characterization Using "Pseudo-surge" to Augment Hydrodynamic Simulation Outputs

2019-05-15T15:21:39Z (GMT) by Matthew P. Shisler
Joint probability methods for assessing storm surge flood risk involve the use of a collection of hydrodynamic storm simulations to fit a response surface model describing the functional relationship between storm surge and storm parameters like central pressure deficit and the radius of maximum wind speed. However, in areas with a sufficiently low probability of flooding, few storms in the simulated storm suite may produce surge, with most storms leaving the location dry with zero flooding. Analysts could treat these zero-depth, “non-wetting” storms as either truncated or censored data. If non-wetting storms are excluded from the training set used to fit the storm surge response surface, the resulting suite of wetting storms may have too few observations to produce a good fit; in the worst case, the model may no longer be identifiable. If non-wetting storms are censored using a constant value, this could skew the response surface fit. The problem is that non-wetting storms are indistinguishable, but some storms may have been closer to wetting than others for a given location. To address these issues, this thesis proposes the concept of a negative surge, or “pseudo-surge”, value with the intent to describe how close a storm came to causing surge at a location. Optimal pseudo-surge values are determined by their ability to improve the predictive performance of the response surface via minimization of a modified least squares error function. We compare flood depth exceedance estimates generated with and without pseudo-surge to determine the value of perfect information. Though not uniformly reducing flood depth exceedance estimate bias, pseudo-surge values do make improvements for some regions where <40% of simulated storms produced wetting. Furthermore, pseudo-surge values show potential to replace a post-processing heuristic implemented in the state-of-the-art response surface methodology that corrects flood depth exceedance estimates for locations where very few storms cause wetting.