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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-307
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-307
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 17 Jun 2019

Submitted as: research article | 17 Jun 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Detection and attribution of flood trends in mediterranean bassins

Yves Tramblay1, Louise Mimeau1, Luc Neppel1, Freddy Vinet3, and Eric Sauquet2 Yves Tramblay et al.
  • 1HSM (Univ. Montpellier, CNRS, IRD), 300 Av. du Professeur Emile Jeanbrau, 34090, Montpellier, France
  • 2IRSTEA, UR RiverLy, Centre de Lyon-Villeurbanne, 5 rue de la Doua CS 20244, 69625 Villeurbanne, France
  • 3GRED (Univ. Paul Valéry, IRD), 2 rue du PrHenri Serres, 34000 Montpellier, France

Abstract. Floods have strong impacts in the Mediterranean region and there is a questioning about a possible increase in their intensity due to climate change. In this study, a large database of 171 basins located in South France with daily discharge data with a median record length of 45 years is considered to analyze flood trends and their drivers. In addition to discharge data, outputs of precipitation, temperature, evapotranspiration from the SAFRAN reanalysis and soil moisture computed with the ISBA land surface model are also analyzed. The evolution of land cover in these basins is analyzed using the CORINE database. The trends in floods above the 95th and 99th percentiles are detected by the Mann-Kendall test and quantile regression techniques. The results show that despite the increase in extreme precipitation reported by previous studies, there is no general tendency towards more severe floods. Only for a few basins, the intensity of the most extreme floods is showing significant upward trends. On the contrary, most trends are towards fewer annual flood occurrences above both the 95th and 99th percentiles for the majority of basins. The decrease in soil moisture seems to be an important driver for these trends, since in most basins increased temperature and evapotranspiration associated with a precipitation decreases are leading to a reduction of soil moisture. These results implies that the observed increase in the vulnerability to these flood events in the last decades is mostly caused by human factors such as increased urbanization and population growth rather than climatic factors.

Yves Tramblay et al.
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Yves Tramblay et al.
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Short summary
In the present study the trends in floods has been assessed for a large sample of 171 basins located in South France with a Mediterranean climate. Results show that despite the increase in rainfall intensity previously observed in this area, there is no general increase of flood magnitude. Instead, a reduction of the annual number of floods is found, linked to a decrease in soil moisture caused by the increase of temperature observed in the last décades.
In the present study the trends in floods has been assessed for a large sample of 171 basins...
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