Richard N. Palmer
Riparian wetlands can serve as nature-based infrastructure that slow the rapid movement of water during high flow events. As the recurrence of high flow events increases due to global climate change, an improved understanding of the potential of wetland landscapes to provide flood mitigation is needed. This research addresses both the impacts of climate change and land cover on extreme flow events in the Otter Creek watershed in Vermont. The upstream portion of the basin is modeled with the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to investigate the impacts of climate change on extreme flow events. A Hydrologic Engineering Center's - River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) two-dimensional hydraulics model is implemented to explore the downstream response of these high flow events to land-use changes in the low-land floodplain system. Flood frequency is analyzed for the results of the hydrology model driven by climate data derived from a representative concentration pathway emission scenario (RCP8.5). Hydraulic model results demonstrate the ability of forested wetlands within the riparian corridor to substantially mitigate the impacts of flooding to downstream communities.