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A review of applied methods in Europe for flood-frequency analysis in a changing environment

Madsen, H.; Lawrence, D.; Lang, M.; Martinkova, M.; Kjeldsen, T.R.. 2013 A review of applied methods in Europe for flood-frequency analysis in a changing environment. NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, 180pp. (ESSEM COST Action ES0901)

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Abstract/Summary

The report presents a review of methods used in Europe for trend analysis, climate change projections and non-stationary analysis of extreme precipitation and flood frequency. In addition, main findings of the analyses are presented, including a comparison of trend analysis results and climate change projections. Existing guidelines in Europe on design flood and design rainfall estimation that incorporate climate change are reviewed. The report concludes with a discussion of research needs on non-stationary frequency analysis for considering the effects of climate change and inclusion in design guidelines. Trend analyses are reported for 21 countries in Europe with results for extreme precipitation, extreme streamflow or both. A large number of national and regional trend studies have been carried out. Most studies are based on statistical methods applied to individual time series of extreme precipitation or extreme streamflow using the non-parametric Mann-Kendall trend test or regression analysis. Some studies have been reported that use field significance or regional consistency tests to analyse trends over larger areas. Some of the studies also include analysis of trend attribution. The studies reviewed indicate that there is some evidence of a general increase in extreme precipitation, whereas there are no clear indications of significant increasing trends at regional or national level of extreme streamflow. For some smaller regions increases in extreme streamflow are reported. Several studies from regions dominated by snowmelt-induced peak flows report decreases in extreme streamflow and earlier spring snowmelt peak flows. Climate change projections have been reported for 14 countries in Europe with results for extreme precipitation, extreme streamflow or both. The review shows various approaches for producing climate projections of extreme precipitation and flood frequency based on alternative climate forcing scenarios, climate projections from available global and regional climate models, methods for statistical downscaling and bias correction, and alternative hydrological models. A large number of the reported studies are based on an ensemble modelling approach that use several climate forcing scenarios and climate model projections in order to address the uncertainty on the projections of extreme precipitation and flood frequency. Some studies also include alternative statistical downscaling and bias correction methods and hydrological modelling approaches. Most studies reviewed indicate an increase in extreme precipitation under a future climate, which is consistent with the observed trend of extreme precipitation. Hydrological projections of peak flows and flood frequency show both positive and negative changes. Large increases in peak flows are reported for some catchments with rainfall-dominated peak flows, whereas a general decrease in flood magnitude and earlier spring floods are reported for catchments with snowmelt-dominated peak flows. The latter is consistent with the observed trends. The review of existing guidelines in Europe on design floods and design rainfalls shows that only few countries explicitly address climate change. These design guidelines are based on climate change adjustment factors to be applied to current design estimates and may depend on design return period and projection horizon. The review indicates a gap between the need for considering climate change impacts in design and actual published guidelines that incorporate climate change in extreme precipitation and flood frequency. Most of the studies reported are based on frequency analysis assuming stationary conditions in a certain time window (typically 30 years) representing current and future climate. There is a need for developing more consistent non-stationary frequency analysis methods that can account for the transient nature of a changing climate.

Item Type: Publication - Report (UNSPECIFIED)
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 3 - Science for Water Management > WA - 3.1 - Develop next generation methods for river flow frequency estimation and forecasting
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 3 - Science for Water Management
CEH Sections: Reynard
ISBN: 9781906698362
Funders/Sponsors: COST Action grant ES0901
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The report has been prepared by Working Group 4 “Flood frequency estimation methods and environmental change”. Freely available online - Official URL link provides full text.
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Related URLs:
Date made live: 03 May 2013 14:20 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/501751

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