A large number of 2D models were originally developed as 1D models for the calculation of water levels along the main course of a river. Due to their development as 2D distributed models, the majority have added precipitation as a source term. The models can now be used as quasi-2D hydrodynamic rainfall–runoff models (‘HDRRM’). Within the direct rainfall method (‘DRM’), there is an approach, referred to as ‘rain-on-grid’, in which input precipitation is applied to the entire catchment area. The study contains a systematic analysis of the model behavior of HEC-RAS (‘Hydrologic Engineering Center—River Analysis System’) with a special focus on spatial resolution. The rain-on-grid approach is applied in a small, ungauged, low-mountain-range study area (Messbach catchment, 2.13 km2
) in Central Germany. Suitable model settings and recommendations on model discretization and parametrization are derived therefrom. The sensitivity analysis focuses on the influence of the mesh resolution’s interaction with the spatial resolution of the underlying terrain model (‘subgrid’). Furthermore, the sensitivity of the parameters interplaying with spatial resolution, like the height of the laminar depth, surface roughness, model specific filter-settings and the precipitation input-data temporal distribution, is analyzed. The results are evaluated against a high-resolution benchmark run, and further criteria, such as 1. Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency, 2. water-surface elevation, 3. flooded area, 4. volume deficit, 5. volume balance and 6. computational time. The investigation showed that, based on the chosen criteria for this size and type of catchment, a mesh resolution between 3 m to 5 m, in combination with a DEM resolution from 0.25 m to 1 m, are recommendable. Furthermore, we show considerable scale effects on flooded areas for coarser meshing, due to low water levels in relation to topographic height.
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