Articles | Volume 18, issue 10
Research article
13 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 13 Oct 2014

Estimation of peak discharges of historical floods

J. Herget, T. Roggenkamp, and M. Krell

Abstract. There is no doubt that the hazard assessment of future floods, especially under consideration of recent environmental change, can be significantly improved by the consideration of historic flood events. While flood frequency inventories on local, regional and even European scale have already been developed and published, the estimation of their magnitudes indicated by discharges is still challenging. Such data are required due to significant human impacts on river channels and floodplains, though historic flood levels cannot be related to recent ones or recent discharges. Based on experiences from single local key studies, we present the general outline of an approach to estimate the discharge of the previous flood based on handed-down flood level and topographic data. The model for one-dimensional steady flow is based on the empirical Manning equation for the mean flow velocity. Background and potential sources of information, acceptable simplifications and data transformation for each element of the model equation are explained and discussed. Preliminary experiences regarding the accuracy of ±10% are documented, and potential approaches for the validation of individual estimations are given. A brief discussion of benefits and limitations, including a generalized statement on alternative approaches, concludes the review of the approach.