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Global Reach-level 3-hourly River Flood Reanalysis (1980-2019)

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  • 1 aDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
  • | 2 bState Key Laboratory of Hydroscience and Engineering, Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  • | 3 cCenter for Western Weather and Water Extremes, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  • | 4 dSchool of Environmental Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China
  • | 5 eInstitute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
  • | 6 fJet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • | 7 gMinistry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  • | 8 hSchool of Civil Engineering and Environmental Sciences, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA
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Abstract

Better understanding and quantification of river floods for very local and flashy events calls for modeling capability at fine spatial and temporal scales. However, long-term discharge records with a global coverage suitable for extreme events analysis are still lacking. Here, grounded on recent breakthroughs in global runoff hydrology, river modeling, high resolution hydrography, and climate reanalysis, we developed a 3-hourly river discharge record globally for 2.94 million river reaches during the 40-year period of 1980-2019. The underlying modeling chain consists of the VIC land surface model (0.05°, 3-hourly) that is well calibrated and bias corrected and the RAPID routing model (2.94 million river and catchment vectors), with precipitation input from MSWEP and other meteorological fields downscaled from ERA5. Flood events (above 2-year return) and their characteristics (number, spatial distribution, and seasonality) were extracted and studied. Validations against 3-hourly flow records from 6,000+ gauges in CONUS and daily records from 14,000+ gauges globally show good modeling performance across all flow ranges, good skills in reconstructing flood events (high extremes), and the benefit of (and need for) sub-daily modeling. This data record, referred as Global Reach-level Flood Reanalysis (GRFR), is publicly available at https://www.reachhydro.org/home/records/grfr.

Corresponding author: Ming Pan, mpan@princeton.edu

Abstract

Better understanding and quantification of river floods for very local and flashy events calls for modeling capability at fine spatial and temporal scales. However, long-term discharge records with a global coverage suitable for extreme events analysis are still lacking. Here, grounded on recent breakthroughs in global runoff hydrology, river modeling, high resolution hydrography, and climate reanalysis, we developed a 3-hourly river discharge record globally for 2.94 million river reaches during the 40-year period of 1980-2019. The underlying modeling chain consists of the VIC land surface model (0.05°, 3-hourly) that is well calibrated and bias corrected and the RAPID routing model (2.94 million river and catchment vectors), with precipitation input from MSWEP and other meteorological fields downscaled from ERA5. Flood events (above 2-year return) and their characteristics (number, spatial distribution, and seasonality) were extracted and studied. Validations against 3-hourly flow records from 6,000+ gauges in CONUS and daily records from 14,000+ gauges globally show good modeling performance across all flow ranges, good skills in reconstructing flood events (high extremes), and the benefit of (and need for) sub-daily modeling. This data record, referred as Global Reach-level Flood Reanalysis (GRFR), is publicly available at https://www.reachhydro.org/home/records/grfr.

Corresponding author: Ming Pan, mpan@princeton.edu
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