Rapid Scenario Screening Pilot in San Francisco Bay

This project, joint funded by BRIM and the Universities of Exeter and Stanford, seeks to develop application of novel Rapid Scenario Screening (RSS) methodologies to evaluate and develop surface water flood resilience in cities. Research is developed alongside the InVEST and SWEEP projects, with analysis focused on a case study of the San Francisco Bay region in the United States.


Surface water flooding is a significant global challenge, and forecast to worsen due to changing precipitation patterns, expanding urban areas and a reliance on aging drainage infrastructure. Flooding can be managed using a large range of strategies, however evaluating, locating and selecting from the many possible interventions available across the complex spatial disaggregation of urban catchments is computationally demanding and time consuming, leading to limited scenario exploration available to evidence decision support.


This work responds to these challenges through developing and applying rapid and quantitative analysis of urban surface water resilience at the city scale, using techniques capable of evaluating many permutations of intervention scale, distribution and performance across a range of potential scenarios.


This research focuses on developing advantages of RSS towards:

  •  Upscaling RSS to a major urban basin (San Francisco Bay).
  • Evaluating the performance of the many permutations of intervention type, scale and spatial distribution at high resolution across urban catchments.
  • Streamlined project setup using high level, easily accessible data, whilst outputting quantitative metrics such as flood depth, extent and intervention cost benefit.
  • Simulating the effect of hundreds of scenarios, enabling analysis to model the performance of diverse interventions through a range of rainfall events, including reliability to design standard storms and resilience to extreme events.


The main outcome from the work will be developing publishable research evaluating application of RSS and urban resilience strategies within the case study, alongside translating impacts regarding resilience science through engaging academics through the EPSRC BRIM, NERC SWEEP and InVEST networks, industry partners and government stakeholders.


James Webber, Research Fellow at the University of Exeter