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Volume 22, issue 8 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 4201-4211, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 07 Aug 2018

Research article | 07 Aug 2018

Extending seasonal predictability of Yangtze River summer floods

Shanshan Wang1,2 and Xing Yuan1 Shanshan Wang and Xing Yuan
  • 1Key Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment for Temperate East Asia (RCE-TEA), Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Arid Climatic Change and Reducing Disaster of Gansu Province, and Key Open Laboratory of Arid Climate Change and Disaster Reduction of CMA, Institute of Arid Meteorology, CMA, Lanzhou 730020, China

Abstract. Extreme pluvial floods across China's Yangtze River basin in the summer of 2016 were strongly connected with intense atmospheric moisture transport, and resulted in vast loss of properties after a strong El Niño winter. Predicting such extreme floods in advance is essential for hazard mitigation, but the flood forecast skill is relatively low due to the limited predictability of summer precipitation. By using a perfect model assumption, here we show that atmospheric moisture flux has a higher potential predictability than precipitation over the Yangtze River at seasonal timescales. The predictability of precipitation and moisture flux is higher in post-El Niño summers than in post-La Niñas, especially for flooding events. As compared with extreme precipitation, the potential detectability of extreme moisture flux increases by 20% in post-El Niño summers, which suggests that atmospheric moisture flux could be crucial for early warning of Yangtze River summer floods.

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Short summary
Long-range flood forecast is very challenging over monsoonal regions. We investigate the potential of extending seasonal predictability of Yangtze River summer floods by using atmospheric moisture flux prediction with a perfect model assumption. The finding suggests a potential to use atmospheric moisture flux which is more predictable than precipitation at the seasonal timescale, to improve flood forecasting and early warning, especially during post-El Niño summers.
Long-range flood forecast is very challenging over monsoonal regions. We investigate the...