Extensive studies have highlighted the roles of rainfall, impervious surfaces, and drainage systems in urban pluvial flooding, whereas topographic control has received limited attention. This study proposes a depression-based index, the Topographic Control Index (TCI), to quantify the function of topography in urban pluvial flooding. The TCI of a depression is derived within its catchment, multiplying the catchment area with the slope, then dividing by the ponding volume of the depression. A case study is demonstrated in Guangzhou, China, using a 0.5 m-resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM) acquired using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology. The results show that the TCI map matches well with flooding records, while the Topographic Wetness Index (TWI) cannot map the frequently flooded areas. The impact of DEM resolution on topographic representation and the stability of TCI values are further investigated. The original 0.5 m-resolution DEM is set as a baseline, and is resampled at resolutions 1, 2, 5, and 10 m. A 1 m resolution has the smallest TCI deviation from those of 0.5 m resolution, and gives the optimal results in terms of striking a balance between computational efficiency and precision of representation. Moreover, the uncertainty in TCI values is likely to increase for small depressions.
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