A new flood type classification method for use in climate change impact studies

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Flood type classification is an optimal tool to cluster floods with similar meteorological triggering conditions. Under climate change these flood types may change differently as well as new flood types develop. This paper presents a new methodology to classify flood types, particularly for use in climate change impact studies. A weather generator is coupled with a conceptual rainfall-runoff model to create long synthetic records of discharge to efficiently build an inventory with high number of flood events. Significant discharge days are classified into causal types using k-means clustering of temperature and precipitation indicators capturing differences in rainfall amount, antecedent rainfall and snow-cover and day of year. From climate projections of bias-corrected temperature and precipitation, future discharge and associated change in flood types are assessed. The approach is applied to two different Alpine catchments: the Ubaye region, a small catchment in France, dominated by rain-on-snow flood events during spring, and the larger Salzach catchment in Austria, affected more by rainfall summer/autumn flood events. The results show that the approach is able to reproduce the observed flood types in both catchments. Under future climate scenarios, the methodology identifies changes in the distribution of flood types and characteristics of the flood types in both study areas. The developed methodology has potential to be used flood impact assessment and disaster risk management as future changes in flood types will have implications for both the local social and ecological systems in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalWeather and climate extremes
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • METIS-321633


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