This paper investigates the cascading dam-break flood propagation on the downstream sloping channel and reservoir using the shallow water equations (SWEs) and the Reynolds-average Navier-Stokes equations (RANS). The calculated surface profiles, stage hydrographs and maximum run-up heights for 24 sets of initial conditions are elaborately compared with the experimental measurements, which show the SWEs reproduce the wave oscillation evolution and the maximum run-up height inaccurately. The maximum run-up heights calculated by the SWEs are all smaller than those by the RANS and the measured results, the maximum errors are within −10% to −25%, which may predict delay of the downstream dam-break. However, the maximum errors calculated by the RANS are within ±10%. So the RANS predict more accurate results than the SWEs. Additionally, the generation of short waves must be below a certain upstream-to-downstream ‘depth ratio’, roughly the ‘depth ratio’ <2/3 in this study. If the ratio is too high, it is difficult to form a wavy push due to air entrainment and turbulence. The SWEs predict more accurate results for shallow initial depths than deep initial depths. Therefore, the advantage of the RANS can be more obvious for deep initial depths.

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