Effects of DEM Resolution on Modeling Coastal Flood Vulnerability

Avidesh Seenath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines whether Digital Elevation Model (DEM) resolution affects the accuracy of predicted coastal inundation extent using LISFLOOD-FP, with application to a sandy coastline in New Jersey. DEMs with resolution ranging from 10 to 100 m were created using coastal elevation data from NOAA, using the North American Vertical Datum of 1988. A two-dimensional hydrodynamic flood model was developed in LISFLOOD-FP using each DEM, all of which were calibrated and validated against an observed 24-h tidal cycle and used to simulate a 1.5 m storm surge. While differences in predicted inundated area from all models were within 1.0%, model performance and computational time worsened and decreased with coarser DEM resolution, respectively. This implied that using a structured grid model for modeling coastal flood vulnerability is based on two trade-offs: high DEM resolution coupled with computational intensity, but higher precision in model predictions, and vice versa. Furthermore, water depth predictions from all DEMs were consistent. Using an integrated numerical modeling and GIS approach, a two-scale modeling strategy, where a coarse DEM is used to predict water levels for projection onto a fine DEM was found to be an effective, and computationally efficient approach for obtaining reliable estimates of coastal inundation extent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-604
Number of pages24
JournalMarine Geodesy
Issue number6
Early online date23 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Coastal flood vulnerability assessment
  • Digital Elevation Model
  • Hydrodynamic Modeling
  • spatial resolution
  • structured grid models


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