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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 757-783, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
08 Jun 2018
Recent trends in the frequency and duration of global floods
Nasser Najibi1,2,3 and Naresh Devineni1,2,3 1Department of Civil Engineering, City University of New York (City College), New York, 10031, USA
2Center for Water Resources and Environmental Research (City Water Center), City University of New York, New York, 10031, USA
3NOAA/Cooperative Science Center for Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Technologies (CREST), City University of New York, New York, 10031, USA
Abstract. Frequency and duration of floods are analyzed using the global flood database of the Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO) to explore evidence of trends during 1985–2015 at global and latitudinal scales. Three classes of flood duration (i.e., short: 1–7, moderate: 8–20, and long: 21 days and above) are also considered for this analysis. The nonparametric Mann–Kendall trend analysis is used to evaluate three hypotheses addressing potential monotonic trends in the frequency of flood, moments of duration, and frequency of specific flood duration types. We also evaluated if trends could be related to large-scale atmospheric teleconnections using a generalized linear model framework. Results show that flood frequency and the tails of the flood duration (long duration) have increased at both the global and the latitudinal scales. In the tropics, floods have increased 4-fold since the 2000s. This increase is 2.5-fold in the north midlatitudes. However, much of the trend in frequency and duration of the floods can be placed within the long-term climate variability context since the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, and Pacific Decadal Oscillation were the main atmospheric teleconnections explaining this trend. There is no monotonic trend in the frequency of short-duration floods across all the global and latitudinal scales. There is a significant increasing trend in the annual median of flood durations globally and each latitudinal belt, and this trend is not related to these teleconnections. While the DFO data come with a certain level of epistemic uncertainty due to imprecision in the estimation of floods, overall, the analysis provides insights for understanding the frequency and persistence in hydrologic extremes and how they relate to changes in the climate, organization of global and local dynamical systems, and country-scale socioeconomic factors.
Citation: Najibi, N. and Devineni, N.: Recent trends in the frequency and duration of global floods, Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 757-783,, 2018.
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
A global assessment of flood events using the Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO) database is performed here to explore the planetary nature of the trends in the frequency and duration of floods (short, moderate, and long). This comprehensive study is the very first global study of actual flood events which identifies temporal changes in frequencies and characteristics of probability distribution of flood durations to understand the changing organization of the local to global dynamical systems.
A global assessment of flood events using the Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO) database is...