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Climate Change and Hydrologic Extreme Events



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Evaluation of the potential for increased inundation in flood prone regions of south Florida in response to sea-level rise and climate change in Broward County, Florida

Project Chief: Jeremy Decker
Cooperator: Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management Division
Period of Project: FY 2012-2015

Problem Statement

Figure 1. Depiction of Urban RunOff process developed for MODFLOW 2005 to calculate runoff and recharge for Broward County, FL.

Figure 1. Lake Starr basin showing topographic-bathymetric elevations used in the model, the plan view of the model grid, the maximum extent of the lake in the model, and the location of monitoring wells used for model calibration.

Flood management and mitigation strategies are a critical aspect of water resource planning in the coastal communities of Broward County, Florida. The proximity to the coast, relatively low elevations throughout much of urban Broward County, and high aquifer permeability make the County susceptible to sea-level rise, increased severity and frequency of hurricanes, and other potentially adverse effects of climate change, and reduces the efficacy of traditional engineered solutions. The County has already experienced effects of rising sea levels. For example, low-lying areas of the City of Fort Lauderdale lacking adequate sea wall protection have been inundated during spring tides. In addition, sea-level rise has exacerbated the effects of astronomical tide events, leading to increased flooding. It is becoming increasingly important for Broward County to plan for climate change and sea-level rise that will affect surface drainage and flood control.

To address these challenges, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Natural Resources Planning and Management Division of Broward County, Florida, are developing tools to test mitigation and adaptation strategies to address the adverse effects of climate change and sea-level rise.


(1) Develop detailed integrated surface water/groundwater models of two representative areas of Broward County, FL.

(2) Develop realistic future scenarios involving climate change-induced changes in sea-level rise, precipitation, and evapotranspiration.

(3) Evaluate how the surface-water and groundwater system may respond to future scenarios and evaluate adaptation/mitigation strategies.


The project will:

  • Develop a simplified local-scale runoff/infiltration approach applicable to Broward County.
  • Select two localities in Broward County for study that are representative of areas that may experience increased inundation resulting from sea-level rise, increased water table elevation, and reduced drainage efficiency.
  • Develop detailed integrated surface water/groundwater models for each locality using a MODFLOW-2005 compatible surface-water routing model.
  • Predict realistic regional-scale climate change and sea-level rise scenarios based on existing coupled Atmospheric-Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs).
  • Evaluate how the surface-water and groundwater system in the two representative areas of Broward County may respond to changing climate and rising sea-levels.
  • Evaluate strategies for mitigating possible adverse effects of climate change and sea-level rise on inundation and the ability to discharge excess runoff from affected areas. 


[Results are not yet available].

Information Products

Decker, J.D, and Hughes, J.D., 2013, Urban Runoff (URO) process for MODFLOW 2005: Simulation of sub-grid scale urban hydrologic processes in Broward County, FL: MODFLOW and More 2013: Translating Science into Practice, Golden, Colorado, June 2-5, 2013.

Decker, J.D. and Hughes, J.D., (planned), Evaluation of the resilience of surface-water infrastructure in flood prone regions of Broward County, Florida, in response to predicted climate change and sea-level rise: U.S. Geological Scientific Investigations Report.

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