Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2890
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2890
02 Jan 2024
 | 02 Jan 2024

An increase in the spatial extent of European floods over the last 70 years

Beijing Fang, Emanuele Bevacqua, Oldrich Rakovec, and Jakob Zscheischler

Abstract. Floods regularly cause substantial damage worldwide. Changing flood characteristics, for instance due to climate change, pose challenges to flood risk management. The spatial extent of floods is an important indicator for potential impacts, as consequences of widespread floods are particularly difficult to mitigate. The highly uneven station distribution in space and time, however, limits the ability to quantify changes in flood characteristics, and in particular flood extent, over large regions. Here we use observation-driven routed runoff simulations over the last 70 years in Europe from a state-of-the-art hydrological model (mHM) to identify large spatio-temporally connected flood events. Our identified spatio-temporal flood events compare well against an independent flood impact database. We find that flood extents increase by 11.3 % on average across Europe. This increase occurs over most of Europe, except for parts of eastern Europe (e.g., Ukraine, Belarus) and southern Europe (e.g., Spain). Over northern Europe, the increase in flood extent is mainly driven by the overall increase in flood magnitude caused by increasing precipitation and snowmelt. In contrast, the increasing trend in flood extent over central Europe can be attributed to an increase in the spatial extent of heavy precipitation. Overall, our study illustrates the opportunities of combining long-term consistent regional runoff simulations with a spatio-temporal flood detection algorithm to identify large-scale trends in key flood characteristics and their drivers. The identified change in flood extent poses challenges to flood control and water resource management.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Beijing Fang, Emanuele Bevacqua, Oldrich Rakovec, and Jakob Zscheischler

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2890', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 Jan 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Beijing Fang, 15 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2890', Anonymous Referee #2, 01 Feb 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Beijing Fang, 15 Mar 2024
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2890', Anonymous Referee #3, 24 Feb 2024
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Beijing Fang, 15 Mar 2024

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2890', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 Jan 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Beijing Fang, 15 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2890', Anonymous Referee #2, 01 Feb 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Beijing Fang, 15 Mar 2024
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2890', Anonymous Referee #3, 24 Feb 2024
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Beijing Fang, 15 Mar 2024
Beijing Fang, Emanuele Bevacqua, Oldrich Rakovec, and Jakob Zscheischler
Beijing Fang, Emanuele Bevacqua, Oldrich Rakovec, and Jakob Zscheischler

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The topic is of interest to a wide audience. The authors have developed a new approach to assess changes in the spatial extent of flooding.
Short summary
We use grid-based runoff from a hydrological model to identify large spatiotemporally connected flood events in Europe, assess extents' trends over the last 70 years, and attribute the trends to different drivers. Our findings reveal a general increase in flood extent, with regional variations driven by diverse factors. The study not only enables a thorough examination of flood events across multiple basins but also highlights the potential challenges arising from changing flood extents.