Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
26 Feb 2009
 | 26 Feb 2009

A contribution to improved flood magnitude estimation in base of palaeoflood record and climatic implications – Guadiana River (Iberian Peninsula)

J. A. Ortega and G. Garzón

Abstract. The Guadiana River has a significant record of historical floods, but the systematic data record is only 59 years. From layers left by ancient floods we know about we can add new data to the record, and we can estimate maximum discharges of other floods only known by the moment of occurrence and by the damages caused. A hydraulic model has been performed in the area of Pulo de Lobo and calibrated by means of the rating curve of Pulo do Lobo Station. The palaeofloods have been dated by means of 14C y 137Cs. As non-systematic information has been used in order to calculate distribution functions, the quantiles have changed with respect to the same function when using systematic information. The results show a variation in the curves that can be blamed on the human transformations responsible for changing the hydrologic conditions as well as on the latest climate changes. High magnitude floods are related to cold periods, especially at transitional moments of change from cold to warm periods. This tendency has changed from the last medium-high magnitude flood, which took place in a systematic period. Both reasons seem to justify a change in the frequency curves indicating a recent decrease in the return period of big floods over 8000 m3 s−1. The palaeofloods indicate a bigger return period for the same water level discharge thus showing the river basin reference values in its natural condition previous to the transformation of the basin caused by anthropic action.