Articles | Volume 3, issue 6
31 Dec 2003
31 Dec 2003

Stationarity analysis of historical flood series in France and Spain (14th–20th centuries)

M. Barriendos, D. Coeur, M. Lang, M. C. Llasat, R. Naulet, F. Lemaitre, and A. Barrera

Abstract. Interdisciplinary frameworks for studying natural hazards and their temporal trends have an important potential in data generation for risk assessment, land use planning, and therefore the sustainable management of resources. This paper focuses on the adjustments required because of the wide variety of scientific fields involved in the reconstruction and characterisation of flood events for the past 1000 years. The aim of this paper is to describe various methodological aspects of the study of flood events in their historical dimension, including the critical evaluation of old documentary and instrumental sources, flood-event classification and hydraulic modelling, and homogeneity and quality control tests. Standardized criteria for flood classification have been defined and applied to the Isère and Drac floods in France, from 1600 to 1950, and to the Ter, the Llobregat and the Segre floods, in Spain, from 1300 to 1980.

The analysis on the Drac and Isère data series from 1600 to the present day showed that extraordinary and catastrophic floods were not distributed uniformly in time. However, the largest floods (general catastrophic floods) were homogeneously distributed in time within the period 1600–1900. No major flood occurred during the 20th century in these rivers. From 1300 to the present day, no homogeneous behaviour was observed for extraordinary floods in the Spanish rivers. The largest floods were uniformly distributed in time within the period 1300–1900, for the Segre and Ter rivers.