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Zhijun Huang, Huan Wu, Robert F. Adler, Guy Schumann, Jonathan J. Gourley, Albert Kettner, and Nergui Nanding

Abstract

A reliable flood event inventory that reflects the occurrence and evolution of past floods is important for studies of flood hazards and risks, hydroclimatic extremes, and future flood projections. However, currently-available flood inventories are based on single-sourced data and often neglect underreported or less impactful flood events. Furthermore, traditional archives store flood events only at sparse geographic points, which significantly limits their further applicability. Also, few publicly available archives contain all-inclusive records of potential natural flooded area over time.

To tackle these challenges, we construct two types of multi-sourced flood event inventories (MFI) for all river basins across the contiguous United States covering the period 1998-2013 on daily and sub-catchment scales, which is publicly available at http://flood.umd.edu/download/CONUS/. These archives integrate flood information from in-situ observations, remote-sensing observations, hydrological model simulations, and five high quality precipitation products. The first inventory (MFI-Actual) includes all actual floods that occurred in the presence of flood protection infrastructures, while the second, “natural (undefended)” inventory (MFI-Natural) reconstructs the possible “historical” floods without flood protection, which could be more directly influenced by climate variation. In the proposed two inventories, 2,755 and 4,661 flood events were estimated, respectively. MFI-Natural reconstructed 1,597 floods in ungauged basins, and recovered 608 extreme streamflow events in gauged sub-catchments where floods would have happened if there were no flood protection. There is an average of four upstream 44 dams located in these flood-recovered sub-catchments, which indicates that modern flood defenses efficiently prevent significant flooding from extreme precipitation in many catchments over the country.

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Zhijun Huang, Huan Wu, Robert F. Adler, Guy Schumann, Jonathan J. Gourley, Albert Kettner, and Nergui Nanding

Abstract

A reliable flood event inventory that reflects the occurrence and evolution of past floods is important for studies of flood hazards and risks, hydroclimatic extremes, and future flood projections. However, currently available flood inventories are based on single-sourced data and often neglect underreported or less impactful flood events. Furthermore, traditional archives store flood events only at sparse geographic points, which significantly limits their further applicability. Also, few publicly available archives contain all-inclusive records of potential natural flooded area over time. To tackle these challenges, we construct two types of multisourced flood event inventories (MFI) for all river basins across the contiguous United States covering the period 1998–2013 on daily and subcatchment scales, which is publicly available at http://flood.umd.edu/download/CONUS/. These archives integrate flood information from in situ observations, remote sensing observations, hydrological model simulations, and five high-quality precipitation products. The first inventory (MFI-Actual) includes all actual floods that occurred in the presence of flood protection infrastructures, while the second, “natural (undefended)” inventory (MFI-Natural) reconstructs the possible “historical” floods without flood protection, which could be more directly influenced by climate variation. In the proposed two inventories, 2,755 and 4,661 flood events were estimated, respectively. MFI-Natural reconstructed 1,597 floods in ungauged basins, and recovered 608 extreme streamflow events in gauged subcatchments where floods would have happened if there were no flood protection. There is an average of four upstream dams located in these flood-recovered subcatchments, which indicates that modern flood defenses efficiently prevent significant flooding from extreme precipitation in many catchments over the country.

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Nergui Nanding, Huan Wu, Jing Tao, Viviana Maggioni, Hylke E. Beck, Naijun Zhou, Maoyi Huang, and Zhijun Huang

Abstract

This study characterizes precipitation error propagation through a distributed hydrological model based on the river basins across the contiguous United States (CONUS), to better understand the relationship between errors in precipitation inputs and simulated discharge (i.e., PQ error relationship). The NLDAS-2 precipitation and its simulated discharge are used as the reference to compare with TMPA-3B42 V7, TMPA-3B42RT V7, Stage IV, CPC-U, MERRA-2, and MSWEP V2.2 for 1548 well-gauged river basins. The relative errors in multiple conventional precipitation products and their corresponding discharges are analyzed for the period of 2002–13. The results reveal positive linear PQ error relationships at annual and monthly time scales, and the stronger linearity for larger temporal accumulations. Precipitation errors can be doubled in simulated annual accumulated discharge. Moreover, precipitation errors are strongly dampened in basins characterized by temperate and continental climate regimes, particularly for peak discharges, showing highly nonlinear relationships. Radar-based precipitation product consistently shows dampening effects on error propagation through discharge simulations at different accumulation time scales compared to the other precipitation products. Although basin size and topography also influence the PQ error relationship and propagation of precipitation errors, their roles depend largely on precipitation products, seasons, and climate regimes.

Open access
Yan Yan, Huan Wu, Guojun Gu, Zhijun Huang, Lorenzo Alfieri, Xiaomeng Li, Nergui Nanding, Xinshun Pan, and Qiuhong Tang

Abstract

Spatial and temporal variations of global floods during the TRMM period (1998–2013) are explored by means of the outputs of the Dominant River Routing Integrated with VIC Environment model (DRIVE) driven by the precipitation rates from the TRMM Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA). Climatological and seasonal mean features of floods including frequency (FF), duration (FD), and mean and total intensity (FI and FTI) are examined and further compared to those for a variety of precipitation indices derived from the daily TMPA rain rates. In general, floods and precipitation manifest similar spatial distributions, confirming that more precipitation (both amount and frequency) often indicates higher probability of floods. However, different flood indices can be associated with different precipitation characteristics with a highly region-dependent distribution. FF and FD tend to be more related to daily precipitation frequency globally, especially the mid- to high-end precipitation frequencies (F10, F25, F50). However, FI and FTI tend to be more associated with the mean volume/magnitude of those (extreme) daily precipitation events (Pr10 and Pr25). Nonetheless, daily precipitation intensity except the very high end one (R50) generally has a relatively weak effect on floods. The precipitation–flood relations at the 10 large regions are further examined, providing an improved understanding of precipitation-related flood-generating mechanisms in different locations. On the interannual time scale, El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) can significantly affect floods in many flood-prone zones. However, it is noted that even though the ENSO effect on floods is mostly through modulating various aspects of precipitation events, significant ENSO signals in precipitation cannot always translate to an effective, simultaneous impact on floods.

Open access