Articles | Volume 7, issue 6
31 Dec 2003
31 Dec 2003

Hydrological and meteorological aspects of floods in the Alps: an overview

Baldassare Bacchi and Roberto Ranzi

Abstract. This introductory paper presents and summarises recent research on meteorological and hydrological aspects of floods in the Alps. The research activities were part of the international research project RAPHAEL (Runoff and Atmospheric Processes for flood HAzard forEcasting and controL) together with experiments within the Special Observing Period-SOP conducted in autumn 1999 for the Mesoscale Alpine Programme —MAP. The investigations were based on both field experiments and numerical simulations, using meteorological and hydrological models, of ten major floods that occurred in the past decade in the European Alps. The two basins investigated were the Ticino (6599 km2) at the Lago Maggiore outlet on the southern side of the Alps and the Ammer catchment (709 km2) in the Bavarian Alps. These catchments and their sub-catchments cover an appropriate range of spatial scales with which to investigate and test in an operational context the potential of both mesoscale meteorological and distributed hydrological models for flood forecasting. From the data analyses and model simulations described in this Special Issue, the major sources of uncertainties for flood forecasts in mid-size mountain basins are outlined and the accuracy flood forecasts is assessed.

Keywords: floods, mountain hydrology, meteorological models, Alps