Using hydrological process knowledge to assess flood generation and changes on a global scale

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

Flooding is a severe natural hazard which regularly causes destruction of life, property, and the environment. Better understanding of flood generating processes can improve flood mitigation and protection. However, little research has been conducted about flood generating processes outside some northern hemisphere regions. Although global flood studies are increasing, they either do not consider flood generating processes, or base their assumptions about them on research results from humid regions only. The aim of this thesis is to increase knowledge about flood generating processes globally, understand which catchment and climate attributes influence mix of flood generating processes and evaluate how process knowledge can improve our understanding of future floods.

To address these issues we developed a location-independent global flood event classification that allows consistent classification of processes in space and time. With this we were able to produce the first global map of flood generating processes and their diversity within and across catchments. We used this classification to analyse which climate and catchment attributes influence the distribution of flood generating processes within and across catchments. We found that climatic attributes control the mix of flood generating processes, though which attributes are most influential varies with processes. This led us to the hypothesis that flood trend studies need to take climatic differences into account as they indicate differences in flood generating processes. We demonstrate that flood trends could be misinterpreted if flood generating processes are not taken into account. This should be considered in the design of future flood trend studies.
Date of Award24 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorRoss A Woods (Supervisor) & Francesca Pianosi (Supervisor)

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