Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-575
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
15 Dec 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Real time updating of the flood frequency distribution through data assimilation
Cristina Aguilar1, Alberto Montanari2, and María-José Polo3 1Fluvial dynamics and hydrology research group, Andalusian Institute of Earth System Research, University of Granada, Granada, 18006, Spain
2Department DICAM, University of Bologna, Bologna, 40136, Italy
3Fluvial dynamics and hydrology research group, Andalusian Institute of Earth System Research, University of Córdoba, Cordoba, 14071, Spain
Abstract. We explore the memory properties of catchments for predicting the likelihood of floods basing on observations of average flows in pre-flood seasons. Our approach assumes that flood formation is driven by the superimposition of short and long term perturbations. The former is given by the short term meteorological forcing leading to infiltration and/or saturation excess, while the latter is originated by higher-than-usual storage in the catchment. To exploit the above sensitivity to long term perturbations a Meta-Gaussian model is implemented for updating a season in advance the flood frequency distribution, through a data assimilation approach. Accordingly, the peak flow in the flood season is predicted by exploiting its dependence on the average flow in the antecedent seasons. We focus on the Po River at Pontelagoscuro and the Danube river at Bratislava. We found that the shape of the flood frequency distribution is significantly impacted by higher-than-usual flows occurred up to several months earlier. The proposed technique may allow one to reduce the uncertainty associated to the estimation of flood frequency.

Citation: Aguilar, C., Montanari, A., and Polo, M.-J.: Real time updating of the flood frequency distribution through data assimilation, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-575, in review, 2016.
Cristina Aguilar et al.
Cristina Aguilar et al.
Cristina Aguilar et al.

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Short summary
Assuming that floods are driven by both short (meteorological forcing) and long-term perturbations (higher-than-usual moisture), we propose a technique for updating a season in advance the flood frequency distribution. Its application in the Po and Danube Rivers helped to reduce the uncertainty in the estimation of floods and thus, constitutes a promising tool for real time management of flood risk mitigation. This study is the result of the stay of the first author at the University of Bolonia.
Assuming that floods are driven by both short (meteorological forcing) and long-term...
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