Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-625
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-625

  21 Dec 2021

21 Dec 2021

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

On the links between sub-seasonal clustering of extreme precipitation and high discharge in Switzerland and Europe

Alexandre Tuel1,2, Bettina Schaefli1,2, Jakob Zscheischler2,3,4, and Olivia Martius1,2,5 Alexandre Tuel et al.
  • 1Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Computational Hydrosystems, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
  • 4Climate and Environmental Physics, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 5Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks, University of Bern, Switzerland

Abstract. River discharge is impacted by the sub-seasonal (weekly to monthly) temporal structure of precipitation. One example is the successive occurrence of extreme precipitation events over sub-seasonal timescales, referred to as temporal clustering. Its potential effects on discharge have received little attention. Here, we address this question by analysing discharge observations following extreme precipitation events either clustered in time or occurring in isolation. We rely on two sets of precipitation and discharge data, one centered on Switzerland and the other over Europe. We identify "clustered" extreme precipitation events based on the previous occurrence of another extreme precipitation within a given time window. We find that clustered events are generally followed by a more prolonged discharge response with a larger amplitude. The probability of exceeding the 95th discharge percentile in the five days following an extreme precipitation event is in particular up to twice as high for situations where another extreme precipitation event occurred in the preceding week compared to isolated extreme precipitation events. The influence of temporal clustering decreases as the clustering window increases; beyond 6–8 weeks the difference with non-clustered events is negligible. Catchment area, streamflow regime and precipitation magnitude also modulate the response. The impact of clustering is generally smaller in snow-dominated and large catchments. Additionally, particularly persistent periods of high discharge tend to occur in conjunction with temporal clusters of precipitation extremes.

Alexandre Tuel et al.

Status: open (until 15 Feb 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-625', Anonymous Referee #1, 12 Jan 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-625', Anonymous Referee #2, 17 Jan 2022 reply

Alexandre Tuel et al.

Alexandre Tuel et al.

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Short summary
River discharge is strongly influenced by the temporal structure of precipitation. Here, we show how extreme precipitation events that occur a few days or weeks after a previous event have a larger effect on river discharge than events occurring in isolation. Windows of two weeks or less between events have the most impact. Similarly, periods of persistent high discharge tend to be associated with the occurrence of several extreme precipitation events in close succession.