Technical note: Laboratory modelling of urban flooding: strengths and challenges of distorted scale models
Laboratory experiments are a viable approach for improving process understanding and generating data for the validation of computational models. However, laboratory-scale models of urban flooding in street networks are often distorted, i.e. different scale factors are used in the horizontal and vertical directions. This may result in artefacts when transposing the laboratory observations to the prototype scale (e.g. alteration of secondary currents or of the relative importance of frictional resistance). The magnitude of such artefacts was not studied in the past for the specific case of urban flooding. Here, we present a preliminary assessment of these artefacts based on the reanalysis of two recent experimental datasets related to flooding of a group of buildings and of an entire urban district, respectively. The results reveal that, in the tested configurations, the influence of model distortion on the upscaled values of water depths and discharges are both of the order of 10 %. This research contributes to the advancement of our knowledge of small-scale physical processes involved in urban flooding, which are either explicitly modelled or parametrized in urban hydrology models.