Articles | Volume 11, issue 4
26 Jul 2007
26 Jul 2007

Aspects of seasonality and flood generating circulation patterns in a mountainous catchment in south-eastern Germany

Th. Petrow, B. Merz, K.-E. Lindenschmidt, and A. H. Thieken

Abstract. Analyses of discharge series, precipitation fields and flood producing atmospheric circulation patterns reveal that two governing flood regimes exist in the Mulde catchment in south-eastern Germany: frequent floods during the winter and less frequent but sometimes extreme floods during the summer. Differences in the statistical parameters of the discharge data can be found within the catchment from west to east. The discharges are compared to a number of landscape parameters that influence the discharge in the sub-catchments. Triggering circulation patterns were assigned to all events of the annual maximum discharge series in order to evaluate which circulation patterns are likely to produce large floods. It can be shown that the cyclone Vb-weather regime (TM, TRM) generates the most extreme flood events in the Mulde catchment, whereas westerly winds produce frequently small floods. The Vb-weather pattern is a very slowly moving low pressure field over the Gulf of Genoa, which can bring large amounts of rainfall to the study area. It could also be shown that even with the two flood regimes estimates with the annual maximum series provide a safer flood protection with a larger safety margin than using summer maximum discharge series for extreme summer floods only. In view of climate change it is necessary to integrate knowledge about catchment characteristics, the prevailing flood regime or the trends of weather patterns in the estimation of extreme events.