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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 19 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 19 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Measuring compound flood potential from river discharge and storm surge extremes at the global scale and its implications for flood hazard

Anaïs Couasnon1, Dirk Eilander1,2, Sanne Muis1,2, Ted I. E. Veldkamp1,5, Ivan D. Haigh3, Thomas Wahl4, Hessel Winsemius2,6, and Philip J. Ward1 Anaïs Couasnon et al.
  • 1Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2Deltares, P.O. Box 177, 2600 MH Delft, The Netherlands
  • 3School of Ocean and Earth Sciences, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 4Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering and National Center for Integrated Coastal Research, University of Central Florida, United States
  • 5International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria
  • 6Department of Water Management, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands

Abstract. The interaction between physical drivers from oceanographic, hydrological, and meteorological processes in coastal areas can result in compound flooding. Compound flood events, like Cyclone Idai and Hurricane Harvey, have revealed the devastating consequences of the co-occurrence of coastal and river floods. A number of studies have recently investigated the likelihood of compound flooding at the continental scale based on simulated variables of flood drivers such as storm surge, precipitation, and river discharges. At the global scale, this has only been performed based on observations, thereby excluding a large extent of the global coastline. The purpose of this study is to fill this gap and identify potential hotspots of compound flooding from river discharge and storm surge extremes in river mouths globally. To do so, we use daily time-series of river discharge and storm surge from state-of-the-art global models driven with consistent meteorological forcing from reanalysis datasets. We measure the compound flood potential by analysing both variables with respect to their timing, joint statistical dependence, and joint return period. We find many hotspot regions of compound flooding that could not be identified in previous global studies based on observations alone, such as: Madagascar, Northern Morocco, Vietnam, and Taiwan. We report possible causal mechanisms for the observed spatial patterns based on existing literature. Finally, we provide preliminary insights on the implications of the bivariate dependence behaviour on the flood hazard characterisation using Madagascar as a case study. Our global and local analyses show that the dependence structure between flood drivers can be complex and can significantly impact the joint probability of discharge and storm surge extremes. These emphasise the need to refine global flood risk assessments and emergency planning to account for these potential interactions.

Anaïs Couasnon et al.
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Anaïs Couasnon et al.
Data sets

Paired time series of daily discharge and storm surge D. Eilander

Anaïs Couasnon et al.
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