Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
31 Aug 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Ensemble reconstruction of spatio-temporal extreme low-flow events in France since 1871
Laurie Caillouet1, Jean-Philippe Vidal1, Eric Sauquet1, Alexandre Devers1, and Benjamin Graff2 1Irstea, UR HHLY, Hydrology and Hydraulics Research Unit, 5 rue de la Doua, BP32108, 69916 Villeurbanne Cedex, France
2Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR), 2 rue André Bonin, 69004 Lyon, France
Abstract. The historical depth of streamflow observations is generally limited to the last 50 years even in data-rich countries like France. It therefore offers too small a sample of extreme low-flow events to properly explore the long-term evolution of their characteristics and associated impacts. In order to overcome this limit, this work first presents a daily 140-year ensemble reconstructed streamflow dataset for a reference network of near-natural catchments in France. This dataset, called SCOPE Hydro (Spatially COherent Probabilistic Extended Hydrological dataset), is based on (1) a probabilistic precipitation, temperature and reference evapotranspiration downscaling of the Twentieth Century Reanalysis over France, called SCOPE Climate, and (2) a continuous hydrological modelling using SCOPE Climate as forcings over the whole period. This work then introduces tools for defining spatio-temporal extreme low-flow events. Extreme low-flow events are first locally defined through the Sequent Peak Algorithm using a novel combination of a fixed threshold and a daily variable threshold. A dedicated spatial matching procedure is then set up to identify spatio-temporal events across France. This procedure is furthermore adapted to the SCOPE Hydro 25-member ensemble in order to characterize in a probabilistic way unrecorded historical events at the national scale. For the first time, extreme low-flow events are described and compared in a spatially and temporally homogeneous way over 140 years on a large set of catchments. Initial results bring forward well-known recent events like 1976 or 1989–1990, but also older and relatively forgotten ones like the 1878 and 1893 events. These results contribute to improve our knowledge on historical events and provide a selection of benchmark events for climate change adaptation purposes. This study moreover allows for further detailed analyses of the effect of climate variability and anthropogenic climate change on low-flow hydrology at the scale of France.

Citation: Caillouet, L., Vidal, J.-P., Sauquet, E., Devers, A., and Graff, B.: Ensemble reconstruction of spatio-temporal extreme low-flow events in France since 1871, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-405, in review, 2016.
Laurie Caillouet et al.
Laurie Caillouet et al.


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Short summary
The historical depth of streamflow observations in France is extended through daily hydrometeorogical reconstructions from 1871 onwards over a large set of near-natural catchments. Innovative approaches are proposed to identify and intercompare extreme low-flow events from these reconstructions, both in time and across France in a homogeneous way over more than 140 years. Analyses bring forward recent well-known events like 1976 and 1989–1990 but also much older ones like 1878 and 1893.
The historical depth of streamflow observations in France is extended through daily...