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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-758
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
31 Jan 2018
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Effects of variability in probable maximum precipitation patterns on flood losses
Andreas Paul Zischg1,2, Guido Felder1, Rolf Weingartner1, Niall Quinn3, Gemma Coxon2, Jeffrey Neal2, Jim Freer2, and Paul Bates2 1University of Bern, Institute of Geography, Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks, Bern, 3012, Switzerland
2School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1SS, United Kingdom
3Fathom Ltd., Bristol, BS1 6QF, United Kingdom
Abstract. The assessment of the impacts of extreme floods is important for dealing with residual risk, particularly for critical infrastructure management and for insurance purposes. Thus, modelling of the probable maximum flood (PMF) from probable maximum precipitation (PMP) by coupling hydrologic and hydraulic models has gained interest in recent years. Herein, we examine whether variability in precipitation patterns exceeds or is below other uncertainties in flood loss estimation and if the flood losses within a river basin are related to the probable maximum discharge at the basin outlet. We developed a model experiment with an ensemble of probable maximum precipitation scenarios created by Monte-Carlo simulations. For each rainfall pattern, we computed the flood losses with a model chain and benchmarked the effects of variability in rainfall distribution with other model uncertainties. The results show that flood losses vary considerably within the river basin and depend on the timing and superimposition of the flood peaks from the basin's sub-catchments. In addition to the flood hazard component, the other components of flood risk, exposure and vulnerability, contribute remarkably to the overall variability. This leads to the conclusion that the estimation of the probable maximum expectable flood losses in a river basin should not be based exclusively on the PMF. Consequently, the basin-specific sensitivities to different precipitation patterns and the spatial organisation of the settlements within the river basin need to be considered in the analyses of probable maximum flood losses.

Citation: Zischg, A. P., Felder, G., Weingartner, R., Quinn, N., Coxon, G., Neal, J., Freer, J., and Bates, P.: Effects of variability in probable maximum precipitation patterns on flood losses, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-758, in review, 2018.
Andreas Paul Zischg et al.
Andreas Paul Zischg et al.
Andreas Paul Zischg et al.

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We developed a model experiment and distributed different rainfall patterns over a mountain river basin. For each rainfall scenario, we computed the flood losses with a model chain. The experiment shows that flood losses vary considerably within the river basin and depend on the timing of the flood peaks from the basin's sub-catchments. Basin-specific characteristics such as the location of the main settlements within the floodplains play an additional important role in determining flood losses.
We developed a model experiment and distributed different rainfall patterns over a mountain...
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