Extreme multi-basin flooding linked with extra-tropical cyclones

Paolo De Luca*, John K. Hillier, Robert L. Wilby, Nevil W. Quinn, Shaun Harrigan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Fluvial floods are typically investigated as 'events' at the single basin-scale, hence flood management authorities may underestimate the threat of flooding across multiple basins driven by large-scale and nearly concurrent atmospheric event(s). We pilot a national-scale statistical analysis of the spatio-temporal characteristics of extreme multi-basin flooding (MBF) episodes, using peak river flow data for 260 basins in Great Britain (1975-2014), a sentinel region for storms impacting northwest and central Europe. During the most widespread MBF episode, 108 basins (∼46% of the study area) recorded annual maximum (AMAX) discharge within a 16 day window. Such episodes are associated with persistent cyclonic and westerly atmospheric circulations, atmospheric rivers, and precipitation falling onto previously saturated ground, leading to hydrological response times <40 h and documented flood impacts. Furthermore, peak flows tend to occur after 0-13 days of very severe gales causing combined and spatially-distributed, yet differentially time-lagged, wind and flood damages. These findings have implications for emergency responders, insurers and contingency planners worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114009
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume12
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • emergency management
  • extra-tropical cyclones
  • flooding
  • Great Britain
  • interactions
  • multi-basin
  • natural hazards

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