Tuesday, March 29, 2016

1D? 2D? or 1D/2D? How Should I Build my Model?

Written by Christopher Goodell, P.E., D.WRE  |  WEST Consultants 
Copyright © The RAS Solution 2016.  All rights reserved. 

Now that the official release of HEC-RAS 5.0 is out with 2D capabilities, I'm getting a lot of questions about whether 1D or 2D (or 1D/2D combined) is the best way to set up a specific model.  The answer is very simple.  Like everything else...It depends!  Fortunately, there are some guidelines.  

1.  The general rule of thumb is that if the length-to-width ratio is larger than 3:1, a 1D model can possibly be used; otherwise, a 2D model is needed (source:  Desktop Review of 2D Hydraulic Modelling Packages, UK Environment Agency, 2009).  For example, if a river reach is 10,000 m long and has a 100 m wide floodplain, the ratio is 100 to 1, so a 1D model is likely okay.  For a river reach that is 10,000 m long but has a 5,000 m wide floodplain, the ratio is 2 to 1, so a 2D model will probably be needed.
2.  Features such as a narrow bridge crossing causes significant expansion/contraction are best modeled using 2D capabilities.
3.  If knowing the flood patterns around buildings and other discrete features is important, a 2D model will be necessary.
4.  Detailed animations showing floodwave progression in multiple directions at a local scale is best represented using a 2D model.  If simple water surface elevation graphics are needed, both 1D and 2D models can be used to produce these results.

When will a 1D model be suitable?

1.  Locations where flow isn’t required to ‘spread’ significantly (flow maintains primarily uni-directional flow patterns).
2.  Well-defined channel/overbank systems (channel is bounded by steep slopes, constricting the lateral expansion of flows).
3.  Simply-connected floodplains where flow in main channel is well connected to flow in the overbank and that flow in both is primarily uni-directional in nature.
4.  When elevation data of only limited quality/quantity are available.

When is a 2D model usually preferable?

1.  Anywhere flow is expected to spread
2.  Urbanized Areas
3.  Wide Floodplains
4.  Downstream of Levee Breaks
5.  Wetland Studies
6.  Lake or Estuary Studies
7.  Alluvial Fans

Other Considerations:
Like anything else, there is rarely a definitive answer to the subject question, rather a lot of gray area.  Frequently, a model could be constructed in 1D or 2D and provide excellent answers either way.  In this case, the experience of the modeler with 1D modeling or 2D modeling becomes very important.  Someone who is very skilled at setting up a 1D model to represent 1- and 2-D conditions (a quasi-2D model) may end up with a much better model than if that same person tried to build a 2D model without much experience in 2D modeling.  And vice-versa. 

There are pluses and minuses to going purely 2D.  First of all, if you can justify using Diffusion wave, a purely 2D model will most definitely be more stable and robust than a 1D or 1D/2D unsteady flow model.  You’ll be surprised how easy it is to set up and run.  Even if you do have to use Full Momentum, typically if your Courant Condition is well satisfied, the model will be more stable.  With multiple streams arranged with complicated junctions and loops, the 2D version will do a much better job – especially around junctions and flow transfers from one stream to another.  And you get to remove subjective modeling techniques like ineffective flow areas, levee markers, cross section orientation, etc.  Some downsides to a fully 2D model are: 
1.  Run times.  If your 2D area is very large and you have relatively small cells (i.e. a lot of cells), then run times can be long.  By a lot of cells, I’m talking about 100,000 to 1 million or more.  Making your model 2D in areas where you need detail and 1D everywhere else can help solve this problem. 
2.  Output.  Getting output from 2D areas is a bit more cumbersome and limited. Still, you can get quite a bit of stuff out of your 2D areas, it just might take more time. 
3.  In version 5.0, there is no direct way to model pressure flow at bridges in a 2D area. Hopefully this will change for the next version.
4.  Learning curve.  Being new to 2D modeling, there will be some overhead just learning how to do it. 
5.  Your client may not be okay with it.  Make sure your client is aware of the benefits of 2D modeling.  There is generally a perception that 2D modeling is more expensive.  This is not (should not) always be the case. 

And remember…

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
            -Albert Einstein (paraphrased)

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
            -H.L. Mencken

For more information, make sure to give Chapter 6 of the new HEC-RAS 2D ModelingManual.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Post-Processing with RAS Mapper: Exporting a Large Number of Results Maps

Written by Shaina Sabatine  |  Watershed Science & Engineering, Seattle, WA
Copyright © The RAS Solution 2016.  All rights reserved.

The new and improved RAS Mapper interface in HEC-RAS 5.0 makes managing and exporting model results like an inundation extents shapefile or a depth grid for use outside of HEC-RAS/RAS Mapper easy.  The process (which is described in detail in Chapter 5 of the HEC-RAS 5.0 2D Modeling User’s Manual) requires the user to add desired results maps one by one using the ‘Add New Map’ button in the ‘Manage Results Maps’ window shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Manage Results Maps window for the results of a completed simulation.  Two results layers have been exported: an inundation boundary shapefile and a depth grid.

Imagine you have a large number of outputs from a simulation that need to be exported.  Because only one new results map can be added to the list in the ‘Manage Results Maps’ window at a time using the ‘Add New Map’ button, the process can become tedious.  One way to make the process

HEC-RAS 2D Training in Portland Oregon

I'll be teaching our very popular 2D HEC-RAS course in my home town of Portland Oregon, just in time to feature the official release of HEC-RAS 5.0.  

If you live in the area, or you've always wanted to figure out why everyone is talking about Portland (and HEC-RAS 5.0!), read on for more information and to register.  

This course is being hosted by River Restoration Northwest.  Please contact them for course registration questions.

River Restoration Northwest Presents
 a course in HEC-RAS 2D Modeling
JOIN US in Portland, Oregon!

April 11-13, 2016
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Every Day
Fee: $700
Registration is now open. 
Location: Cheatham Hall at the World Forestry Center in Portland
Instructor: Chris Goodell, WEST Consultants
NOTE:  Course fees are non-refundable except in the event that minimum course registration numbers are not met.  
The Army Corps of Engineers Hydrologic Engineering Center’s River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) has been updated to include two dimensional modeling capabilities. This intensive 3-day workshop will introduce the experienced HEC-RAS user to these new 2-D capabilities.
Through attending this workshop, participants will:
  • Learn how to use the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers HEC-RAS (River Analysis System) computer program to model two-dimensional unsteady flow hydraulics.
  • Get an overview of two-dimensional flow theory and the differences between one-dimensional and two-dimensional modeling.
  • Gain hands-on HEC-RAS experience by participating in practical computer workshops.
  • Understand how to develop a stable and calibrated two-dimensional flow model.
  • Obtain valuable insights in methods for minimizing computation errors and instabilities for two-dimensional unsteady hydraulic models.
  • Learn from real world projects and applications.
Christopher R. Goodell, P.E., D.WRE, is a senior hydraulic engineer with WEST Consultants with over 20 years of experience in computational hydraulics, river hydraulics and hydraulic design. He spent two years at the Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC) actively working on the development of HEC-RAS. In addition, Mr. Goodell is a contributing author to the HEC-RAS manuals and has applied HEC-RAS to a wide range of complex problems, including dam breaks, bridge and culvert hydraulics, spillway and outlet works design, stable channel design, and floodplain mapping. Mr. Goodell earned his B.S. degree in civil engineering at Oregon State University and his M.E. degree in hydraulic engineering from the International Institute for Hydraulic Engineering (IHE) in Delft, The Netherlands. Mr. Goodell has taught HEC-RAS courses and provided technical support for HEC-RAS since 2000.
Your class will be held in the WORLD FORESTRY CENTER at 4033 SW Canyon Road, Portland, OR, 97221. The office phone number is 503-228-1367. Our class will be held in Cheatham Hall that is located to the south of the Discovery Museum and Plaza.
By Car
Located in Portland's Washington Park, the World Forestry Center is just five minutes from downtown Portland. For detailed driving directions please visit the World Forestry Center’s website at:
Portland Parks and Recreation owns and manages parking spaces in Washington Park. They have implemented pay-by-space meters for all patrons who use the park, including those attending events.
Fees: $1.60/hour (9:30AM – 9:30PM) * $4.00/day October-March * $6.40/day April - September
Please visit this link for more detail on the parking meters:
MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) runs through downtown from the suburbs to the west and east, from the airport, and from the Expo Center. Washington Park has its own MAX stop, which lets you off right at the World Forestry Center’s front door. Check out TriMet’s web site at for route maps, fares, connections and schedules.
If you need a place to stay, many of the downtown Portland hotels are within easy walking distance to the MAX light rail that provides easy access to Washington Park as described above. The Portland Oregon Visitors Association (POVA) can advise you on Portland-area hotels and motels and book your reservation over the phone. Call toll-free 1-87-PORTLAND (1-877-678-5263) or visit their web site,

Friday, March 4, 2016

HEC-RAS 5.0 Official Release is Available!!!

The wait is over!  Finally the official release of HEC-RAS Version 5.0 is here.  You can download it from the HEC website at

If the download from the HEC website is slow, you can also download it from here: (207 MB,  Installation package without example problems) (538 MB, Installation package with example problems)

This new version also comes with updated manuals (User's Manual, Hydraulic Reference Manual, and Applications Guide), as well as a new 2D Modeling Manual.

Enjoy and good luck!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

HEC-RAS 2D Training in Melbourne Australia is Official - April 5-7, 2016

The 2D HEC-RAS class is a GO!  Who wants some HEC-RAS 2D Modelling training?   This will be a fantastic opportunity to learn how to set up and run 2D and 1D/2D HEC-RAS models.  Mr. Krey Price and I will be hosting this course in Melbourne, Australia on April 5, 6, and 7th. Please go here for more details and to register for the class.  There will be some additional courses throughout Australia later, but I will only be participating in the Melbourne class on April 5, 6, and 7th. 

Following the success of his 2015 HEC-RAS 5.0 course held in Italy, former HEC-RAS Development Team Member Chris Goodell will be travelling to Australia in April 2016 to conduct two intensive 3-day courses focused on 2D model development in HEC-RAS. 

This course will take place in  Melbourne,  5-7 April, 2016.

The course will be held in CBD conference/training facilities in downtown Melbourne. Please register for the class at