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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 19, issue 5 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 2247-2260, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-19-2247-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 11 May 2015

Research article | 11 May 2015

Global warming increases the frequency of river floods in Europe

L. Alfieri, P. Burek, L. Feyen, and G. Forzieri L. Alfieri et al.
  • European Commission – Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy

Abstract. EURO-CORDEX (Coordinated Downscaling Experiment over Europe), a new generation of downscaled climate projections, has become available for climate change impact studies in Europe. New opportunities arise in the investigation of potential effects of a warmer world on meteorological and hydrological extremes at regional scales. In this work, an ensemble of EURO-CORDEX RCP8.5 scenarios is used to drive a distributed hydrological model and assess the projected changes in flood hazard in Europe through the current century. Changes in magnitude and frequency of extreme streamflow events are investigated by statistical distribution fitting and peak over threshold analysis. A consistent method is proposed to evaluate the agreement of ensemble projections. Results indicate that the change in frequency of discharge extremes is likely to have a larger impact on the overall flood hazard as compared to the change in their magnitude. On average, in Europe, flood peaks with return periods above 100 years are projected to double in frequency within 3 decades.

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This work presents, to our best knowledge, the first pan-European assessment of the future hydro-meteorological hazard based on an ensemble of the new EURO-CORDEX regional climate scenarios. We propose a novel approach, which shows how the change in the frequency of future floods in Europe is likely to have a larger impact on the overall flood hazard as compared to the change in their magnitude. A consistent method is proposed to evaluate the agreement of ensemble projections.
This work presents, to our best knowledge, the first pan-European assessment of the future...
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