Articles | Volume 15, issue 10
Research article
07 Oct 2011
Research article |  | 07 Oct 2011

Forest cover influence on regional flood frequency assessment in Mediterranean catchments

F. Preti, G. Forzieri, and G. B. Chirico

Abstract. The paper aims at evaluating to what extent the forest cover can explain the component of runoff coefficient as defined in a regional flood frequency analysis based on the application of the rational formula coupled with a regional model of the annual maximum rainfall depths. The analysis is addressed to evaluate the component of the runoff coefficient which cannot be captured by the catchment lithology alone. Data mining is performed on 75 catchments distributed from South to Central Italy. Cluster and correlation structure analyses are conducted for distinguishing forest cover effects within catchments characterized by hydro-morphological similarities. We propose to improve the prediction of the runoff coefficient by a linear regression model, exploiting the ratio of the forest cover to the catchment critical rainfall depth as dependent variable. The proposed regression enables a significant bias correction of the runoff coefficient, particularly for those small mountainous catchments, characterised by larger forest cover fraction and lower critical rainfall depth.