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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Short summary
We examine whether several climate indices alter the magnitude, timing, and duration of floods in the Amazon. We find significant changes in both flood magnitude and duration, particularly in the north-eastern Amazon for negative SST years in central Pacific Ocean. This response is not repeated when the negative anomaly is positioned further east. These results have importance implications for both social and physical sectors working towards the improvement of early warning systems for floods.
Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-580
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-580

  08 Dec 2020

08 Dec 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Influence of ENSO and tropical Atlantic climate variability on flood characteristics in the Amazon basin

Jamie Towner1, Andrea Ficchí1, Hannah L. Cloke1,2,3,4, Juan Bazo5,6, Erin Coughlan de Perez6,7, and Elisabeth M. Stephens1 Jamie Towner et al.
  • 1Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 2Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 4Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Science, CNDS, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 5Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, The Hague, 2521 CV, the Netherlands
  • 6Universidad Tecnológica del Perú (UTP), Lima, Perú
  • 7International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA

Abstract. Flooding in the Amazon basin is frequently attributed to modes of large-scale climate variability, but little attention is paid to how these modes influence the timing and duration of floods despite their importance to early warning systems and the significant impacts that these flood characteristics can have on communities. In this study, river discharge data from the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS 2.1) and observed data at 58 gauging stations are used to examine whether positive/negative phases of several Pacific and Atlantic indices significantly alter the characteristics of river flows throughout the Amazon basin (1979–2015). Results show significant changes in both flood magnitude and duration, particularly in the north-eastern Amazon for negative ENSO years when the SST anomaly is positioned in the central tropical Pacific. This response is not identified for the eastern Pacific index, highlighting how the response can differ between ENSO types. Although flood magnitude and duration were found to be highly correlated, the impacts of large-scale climate variability on these characteristics are non-linear; some increases in annual flood maxima coincide with decreases in flood duration. The impact of flood timing however does not follow any notable pattern for all indices analysed. Finally, observed and simulated changes are found to be much more highly correlated for negative ENSO years compared to the positive phase, meaning that GloFAS struggles to accurately simulate the differences in flood characteristics between El Niño and neutral years. These results have important implications for both the social and physical sectors working towards the improvement of early warning action systems for floods.

Jamie Towner et al.

 
Status: open (until 15 Feb 2021)
Status: open (until 15 Feb 2021)
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Jamie Towner et al.

Jamie Towner et al.

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Short summary
We examine whether several climate indices alter the magnitude, timing, and duration of floods in the Amazon. We find significant changes in both flood magnitude and duration, particularly in the north-eastern Amazon for negative SST years in central Pacific Ocean. This response is not repeated when the negative anomaly is positioned further east. These results have importance implications for both social and physical sectors working towards the improvement of early warning systems for floods.
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