Flood seasonality across Scandinavia—Evidence of a shifting hydrograph?

Hydrological Processes
Matti, Bettina; Dahlke, Helen E.; Dieppois, Bastien; Lawler, Damian M.; Lyon, Steve W.
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Volume / Issue31/24
Total Pages16 pages
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Tagscircular statistics; flood seasonality; Mann-Kendall test; Scandinavia; trend analysis
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Publication DateSeptember 27, 2017
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Abstract Fluvial flood events have substantial impacts on humans, both socially and economically, as well as on ecosystems (e.g., hydroecology and pollutant transport). Concurrent with climate change, the seasonality of flooding in cold environments is expected to shift from a snowmelt‐dominated to a rainfall‐dominated flow regime. This would have profound impacts on water management strategies, that is, flood risk mitigation, drinking water supply, and hydro power. In addition, cold climate hydrological systems exhibit complex interactions with catchment properties and large‐scale climate fluctuations making the manifestation of changes difficult to detect and predict. Understanding a possible change in flood seasonality and defining related key drivers therefore is essential to mitigate risk and to keep management strategies viable under a changing climate. This study explores changes in flood seasonality across near‐natural catchments in Scandinavia using circular statistics and trend tests. Results indicate strong seasonality in flooding for snowmelt‐dominated catchments with a single peak occurring in spring and early summer (March through June), whereas flood peaks are more equally distributed throughout the year for catchments located close to the Atlantic coast and in the south of the study area. Flood seasonality has changed over the past century seen as decreasing trends in summer maximum daily flows and increasing winter and spring maximum daily flows with 5–35% of the catchments showing significant changes at the 5% significance level. Seasonal mean daily flows corroborate those findings with higher percentages (5–60%) of the catchments showing statistically significant changes. Alterations in annual flood occurrence also point towards a shift in flow regime from snowmelt‐dominated to rainfall‐dominated with consistent changes towards earlier timing of the flood peak (significant for 25% of the catchments). Regionally consistent patterns suggest a first‐order climate control as well as a local second‐order catchment control, which causes inter‐seasonal variability in the streamflow response.
Created: 9/6/2018 11:58 AM (ET)
Modified: 9/6/2018 11:58 AM (ET)
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