Hydrologic versus geomorphic drivers of trends in flood hazard
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Flooding is a major hazard to lives and infrastructure, but trends in flood hazard are poorly understood. The capacity of river channels to convey flood flows is typically assumed to be stationary, so changes in flood frequency are thought to be driven primarily by trends in streamflow. We have developed new methods for separately quantifying how trends in both streamflow and channel capacity have affected flood frequency at gauging sites across the USA. Flood frequency was generally nonstationary, with increasing flood hazard at a statistically significant majority of sites. Channel capacity driven changes in flood hazard were smaller, but more numerous, than those driven by streamflow. Our results demonstrate that accurately quantifying changes in flood hazard requires accounting separately for trends in both streamflow and channel capacity. They also show that channel capacity trends may have unforeseen consequences for flood management and for estimating flood insurance costs.
Slater , L J E , Singer , M B & Kirchner , J 2015 , ' Hydrologic versus geomorphic drivers of trends in flood hazard ' Geophysical Research Letters , vol 42 , no. 2 , pp. 370-376 . DOI: 10.1002/2014GL062482
Geophysical Research Letters
©2015. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This work was partially supported by a NERC studentship to LJS
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