Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 6, 229–238, 2002

Special issue: Climatic and anthropogenic effects on hydrological processes

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 6, 229–238, 2002

  30 Apr 2002

30 Apr 2002

Climatic control on the variability of flood distribution

V. Iacobellis1, P. Claps2, and M. Fiorentino3 V. Iacobellis et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile e Ambientale - Politecnico di Bari, Via E. Orabona, 4, 70125, Bari, Italy
  • 2Dipartimento di Idraulica, Trasporti e Infrastrutture Civili - Politecnico di Torino, Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Torino, Italy
  • 3Dipartimento di Ingegneria e Fisica dell’Ambiente - Università della Basilicata, Contrada Macchia Romana, 85100, Italy
  • Email for corresponding author:

Abstract. The variability of the second order moments of flood peaks with respect to geomorphoclimatic basin characteristics was investigated. In particular, the behaviour of the coefficient of variation (Cv) of the series of annual maximum floods was analysed with respect to its dependence on physically consistent quantities. The results achieved were in fairly good agreement with real world observed characteristics and interesting insights on the relationship between Cv and basin size were found. It appears that Cv is controlled mainly by the climate and by some water loss features. Many observations reported in the literature show a decrease of Cv with basin area A, usually ascribed to the limited spatial extent of extreme events, which leads to a decrease with area of the Cv of areal rainfall intensity. An increase of Cv with the area is also sometimes observed for small basins. Such different behaviours were accounted for by the concurrent effect on two parameters that affect the Cv (A) relationship, representative of the way rainfall losses and effective rainfall intensity scale with the basin area.

Keywords: floods, climate, coefficient of variation, scaling.