Articles | Volume 12, issue 5
Research article
03 May 2012
Research article |  | 03 May 2012

Analysis of flash flood regimes in the North-Western and South-Eastern Mediterranean regions

P. Tarolli, M. Borga, E. Morin, and G. Delrieu

Abstract. This work analyses the prominent characteristics of flash flood regimes in two Mediterranean areas: the North-Western Mediterranean region, which includes Catalonia, France and Northern Italy, and the South-Eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Israel. The two regions are characterized by similarities in the hydro-meteorological monitoring infrastructure, which permits us to ensure homogeneity in the data collection procedures. The analysis is articulated into two parts. The first part is based on use of flood peak data, catchment area and occurrence date for 99 events (69 from the North-Western region and 30 from the South-Eastern region). Analysis is carried out in terms of relationship of flood peaks with catchment area and seasonality. Results show that the envelope curve for the South-Eastern region exhibits a more pronounced decreasing with catchment size with respect to the curve of the North-Western region. The differences between the two relationships reflect changes in the effects of storm coverage and hydrological characteristics between the two regions. Seasonality analysis shows that the events in the North-Western region tend to occur between August and November, whereas those in the South-Eastern area tend to occur in the period between October and May, reflecting the relevant patterns in the synoptic conditions leading to the intense precipitation events. In the second part, the focus is on the rainfall-runoff relationships for 13 selected major flash flood events (8 from the North-Western area and 5 from the South-Eastern area) for which rainfall and runoff properties are available. These flash floods are characterised in terms of climatic features of the impacted catchments, duration and amount of the generating rainfall, and runoff ratio. Results show that the rainfall duration is shorter and the rainfall depth lower in the South-Eastern region. The runoff ratios are rather low in both regions, whereas they are more variable in the South-Eastern area. No clear relationship between runoff ratio and rainfall depth is observed in the sample of floods, showing the major influence of rainfall intensity and the initial wetness condition in the runoff generation for these events.