10 Dec 2020

10 Dec 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal HESS and is expected to appear here in due course.

Characteristics and process controls of statistical flood moments in Europe – a data based analysis

David Lun1, Alberto Viglione2, Miriam Bertola1, Jürgen Komma1, Juraj Parajka1, Peter Valent1,3, and Günter Blöschl1 David Lun et al.
  • 1Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
  • 2Department of Environment, Land and Infrastructure Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy
  • 3Department of Land and Water Resources Management, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava, Slovakia

Abstract. This paper analyses the spatial patterns and process controls of the mean annual flood (MAF), coefficient of variation (CV) and skewness (CS) of flood discharges in Europe. The data consist of maximum annual flood discharge series observed in 2370 catchments in Europe covering the period 1960–2010. On average, in Europe, the estimated moments MAF, CV and CS are 0.17 m3 s−1 km−2, 0.52 and 1.28, respectively.

The results indicate that MAF is largest along the Atlantic coast, the high rainfall areas of the Mediterranean coast and in the mountain ranges of Europe, while it is smallest in the sheltered parts of the East European plain. CV is largest in Southern and Eastern Europe, while it is smallest in the regions of strong Atlantic influence. The pattern of CS is similar to that of CV, albeit a little more erratic. In the Mediterranean, MAF, CV and CS decrease strongly with catchment area suggesting that floods in small catchments are relatively very large, while in Eastern Europe the dependence is much weaker.

The Process controls on the flood moments in five hydroclimatic regions are identified by correlation and multiple linear regression analyses with a range of covariates. Precipitation-related variables are found to be the main controls of the spatial patterns of MAF in most of Europe except for the regions with snow influence where air temperature is more important. Catchment area is another relevant variable. Aridity is by far the most important control of the spatial pattern of CV in all of Europe. Precipitation-related variables are relevant in Southern Europe. Overall, the findings suggest that, at the continental scale, climate variables dominate over land surface characteristics, such as land use and soil type, in controlling the spatial patterns of flood moments.

Finally, the estimation accuracy of the multiple linear regression model for estimating flood moments in ungauged basins is evaluated as a baseline for more accurate local studies.

David Lun et al.

Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

David Lun et al.

David Lun et al.


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Short summary
We investigate statistical properties of observed flood series on a European scale. There are pronounced regional patterns, for instance: Regions with strong Atlantic influence show less year-to-year variability in the magnitude of observed floods, when compared with more arid regions of Europe. The hydrological controls on the patterns are quantified and discussed. On the European scale, climate seems to be the dominant driver for the observed patterns.