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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  25 Aug 2020

25 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Spatiotemporal clustering of flash floods in a changing climate (China, 1950–2015)

Nan Wang1,2, Luigi Lombardo3, Marj Tonini4, Weiming Cheng1,2,5,6, Liang Guo7,8, and Junnan Xiong1,9 Nan Wang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information Systems, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China
  • 3University of Twente, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), PO Box 217, Enschede, AE 7500, Netherlands
  • 4Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 5Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographic Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing, 210023, China
  • 6Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies, Nanjing, 210093, China
  • 7Research Center on Flood and Drought Disaster Reduction of the MWR, Beijing, 100038, China
  • 8State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing 100038, China
  • 9School of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu, 610500, China

Abstract. The persistence over space and time of flash flood disasters – flash floods that have caused either economical or life losses, or both – is a diagnostic measure of areas subjected to hydrological risk. The concept of persistence can be assessed via clustering analyses, performed here to analyse the national inventory of flash flood disasters in China occurred in the period 1950–2015. Specifically, we investigated the spatiotemporal pattern distribution of the flash flood disasters and their clustering behavior by using both global and local methods: the first, based on the Ripley's K-function, and the second on Scan Statistics. As a result, we could visualize patterns of aggregated events, estimate the cluster duration and make assumptions about their evolution over time, also with respect precipitation trend. Due to the large spatial (the whole Chinese territory) and temporal (66 years) scale of the dataset, we were able to capture whether certain clusters gather in specific locations and times, but also whether their magnitude tends to increase or decrease. Overall, the eastern regions in China are much more subjected to flash flood disasters compared to the rest of the country. Detected clusters revealed that these phenomena predominantly occur between July and October, a period coinciding with the wet season in China. The number of detected clusters increases with time, but the associated duration drastically decreases in the recent period. This may indicate a change towards triggering mechanisms which are typical of short-duration extreme rainfall events. Finally, being flash flood disasters directly linked to precipitation and their extreme realization, we indirectly assessed whether the magnitude of the trigger itself has also varied through space and time, enabling considerations in the context of climatic changes.

Nan Wang et al.

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Nan Wang et al.

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Latest update: 29 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This study exploits 66 years of flash flood disasters across China. The conclusions are as follows: 1. The clustering procedure highlights distinct spatial and temporal patterns of flash flood disasters at different scales. 2. There are distinguished seasonal, yearly, and even long-term flash flood persisting behaviors of flash flood disasters. 3. The decreased duration of clusters in the recent period indicates a possible activation induced by short-duration extreme rainfall events.
This study exploits 66 years of flash flood disasters across China. The conclusions are as...