The accuracy of two-dimensional hydrodynamic models (2D models) is improved when high-resolution Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) are used. However, the entailed high spatial discretisation results in excessive computational expenses, thus prohibiting their implementation in real-time forecasting especially at a large scale. This paper presents a sub-model approach that adapts 1D static models to tailor high-resolution 2D model grids relevant to specified targets, such that the tailor-made 2D hydrodynamic sub-models yield fast processing without significant loss of accuracy via a GIS-based multi-scale simulation framework. To validate the proposed approach, model experiments were first designed to separately test the impact of two outcomes (i.e., the reduced computational domains and the optimised boundary conditions) towards final 2D prediction results. Then, the robustness of the sub-model approach was evaluated by selecting four focus areas with distinct catchment terrain morphologies as well as distinct rainfall return periods of 1–100 years. The sub-model approach resulted in a 45–553 times faster processing with a 99% reduction in the number of computational cells for all four cases; the goodness of fit regarding predicted flood extents was above 0.88 of F2
, flood depths yield Root Mean Square Errors (RMSE) below 1.5 cm and the discrepancies of u- and v-directional velocities at selected points were less than 0.015 ms−1
. As such, this approach reduces the 2D models’ computing expenses significantly, thus paving the way for large-scale high-resolution 2D real-time forecasting.
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