Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 2735-2772, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review article
30 Jul 2014
Understanding flood regime changes in Europe: a state-of-the-art assessment
J. Hall1, B. Arheimer2, M. Borga3, R. Brázdil4,5, P. Claps6, A. Kiss1, T. R. Kjeldsen7, J. Kriaučiūnienė8, Z. W. Kundzewicz9,10, M. Lang11, M. C. Llasat12, N. Macdonald13,14, N. McIntyre15,*, L. Mediero16, B. Merz17, R. Merz18, P. Molnar19, A. Montanari20, C. Neuhold21, J. Parajka1, R. A. P. Perdigão1, L. Plavcová1,**, M. Rogger1, J. L. Salinas1, E. Sauquet11, C. Schär22, J. Szolgay23, A. Viglione1, and G. Blöschl1 1Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
2Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrköping, Sweden
3Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, University of Padova, Padua, Italy
4Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
5Global Change Research Centre, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Brno, Czech Republic
6Department Environment, Land and Infrastructure Engineering (DIATI), Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy
7Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, University of Bath, Bath, UK
8Laboratory of Hydrology, Lithuanian Energy Institute, Kaunas, Lithuania
9Institute for Agricultural and Forest Environment, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poznan, Poland
10Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
11Irstea, UR HHLY, Hydrology-Hydraulics Research Unit, Rue de la Doua, Villeurbanne Cedex, France
12Department of Astronomy and Meteorology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
13Department of Geography and Planning, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
14Institute of Risk and Uncertainty, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
15Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK
16Department of Civil Engineering: Hydraulic and Energy, Technical University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
17Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
18Department for Catchment Hydrology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Halle, Germany
19Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
20Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering (DICAM), University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
21Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Division VII/5 – Flood Control Management, Vienna, Austria
22Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
23Department of Land and Water Resources Management, Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava, Slovakia
*now at: Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
**now at: Institute for Systematic Botany and Ecology, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany
Abstract. There is growing concern that flooding is becoming more frequent and severe in Europe. A better understanding of flood regime changes and their drivers is therefore needed. The paper reviews the current knowledge on flood regime changes in European rivers that has traditionally been obtained through two alternative research approaches. The first approach is the data-based detection of changes in observed flood events. Current methods are reviewed together with their challenges and opportunities. For example, observation biases, the merging of different data sources and accounting for nonlinear drivers and responses. The second approach consists of modelled scenarios of future floods. Challenges and opportunities associated with flood change scenarios are discussed such as fully accounting for uncertainties in the modelling cascade and feedbacks. To make progress in flood change research, we suggest that a synthesis of these two approaches is needed. This can be achieved by focusing on long duration records and flood-rich and flood-poor periods rather than on short duration flood trends only, by formally attributing causes of observed flood changes, by validating scenarios against observed flood regime dynamics, and by developing low-dimensional models of flood changes and feedbacks. The paper finishes with a call for a joint European flood change research network.

Citation: Hall, J., Arheimer, B., Borga, M., Brázdil, R., Claps, P., Kiss, A., Kjeldsen, T. R., Kriaučiūnienė, J., Kundzewicz, Z. W., Lang, M., Llasat, M. C., Macdonald, N., McIntyre, N., Mediero, L., Merz, B., Merz, R., Molnar, P., Montanari, A., Neuhold, C., Parajka, J., Perdigão, R. A. P., Plavcová, L., Rogger, M., Salinas, J. L., Sauquet, E., Schär, C., Szolgay, J., Viglione, A., and Blöschl, G.: Understanding flood regime changes in Europe: a state-of-the-art assessment, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 2735-2772,, 2014.
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