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Co-occurring wintertime flooding and extreme wind over Europe, from daily to seasonal timescales

Bloomfield, H. C. ORCID:, Hillier, J., Griffin, A., Kay, A. L., Shaffrey, L. C. ORCID:, Pianosi, F., James, R., Kumar, D. ORCID:, Champion, A. and Bates, P. D. (2023) Co-occurring wintertime flooding and extreme wind over Europe, from daily to seasonal timescales. Weather and Climate Extremes, 39. 100550. ISSN 22120947

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.wace.2023.100550


The risk posed by heavy rain and strong wind is now suspected to be exacerbated by the way they co-occur, yet this remains insufficiently understood to effectively plan and mitigate. This study systematically investigates the correlations between wintertime (Oct–Mar) extremes relating to wind and flooding at all timescales from daily to seasonal. Meteorological reanalysis and river flow datasets are used to explore the historical period, and climate projections at 12 km resolution are analysed to understand the possible effects of future climate change (2061–2080, RCP 8.5). A new flood severity index (FSI) is also developed to complement the existing storm severity index (SSI). Initially, Great Britain (GB) is taken as a comparatively simple yet informative study area, then analysis is extended to the full European domain. Aggregated across GB, wind gusts and precipitation correlate strongly ( 0.6–0.8) at timescales from daily to seasonal, but peak around 10 days. A later peak is seen when considering correlations between wind gusts and river flows (40–60 days). This time is likely needed for catchments’ soils to saturate. A conceptual multi-temporal, multi-process model of GB wintertime flood-wind co-occurrence is proposed as a basis for future investigation. When historical analysis is extended across Europe we find the timescale of maximum correlation varies strongly between nations, likely as a result of different meteorological drivers. Impact focused correlation (FSI–SSI) is lower ( 0.2) but increases notably with climate change at timescales of 40 days ( 0.4). Tentatively, very severe episodes (i.e., both 99th percentile) appear heavily influenced by climate change, increasing roughly threefold by 2061–2080 (p 0.05). The return period of such an event is 16 years historically (compared to 56 years if the two hazards were independent), reduces to 5 years in future. Such metrics provide actionable information for insurers and other stakeholders.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:110500


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