Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-169
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-169

  18 Jun 2021

18 Jun 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Geo-historical analysis of flood impacts in Alpine catchments (HIFAVa database, Arve River, France, 1850–2015)

Eva Boisson1, Bruno Wilhelm1, Emmanuel Garnier2, Alain Mélo3, Sandrine Anquetin1, and Isabelle Ruin1 Eva Boisson et al.
  • 1University Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Institut des Géosciences de l'Environnement (IGE), Grenoble, France
  • 2University Franche-Comté, CNRS, Laboratoire Chrono-environnement (LCE), Besançon, France
  • 3AXALP, Annecy, France; associate member at University Savoie Mont-Blanc, CNRS, EDYTEM - UMR 5204, Le Bourget du Lac, France

Abstract. In France, flooding is the most common and damaging natural hazard. Due to global warming, it is expected to globally exacerbate, and it could be even more pronounced in the European Alps that warm at a rate twice as high in the Northern Hemisphere. The Alps are densely populated, increasing exposure and vulnerability to flood hazard. To approach long-term evolutions of past flood occurrence and related socio-economic impacts in relation to changes in the flood risk components (i.e. hazard, exposure and vulnerability), the study of historical records is highly relevant.

To this aim we analyze the newly constituted database of Historical Impacts of Floods in the Arve Valley (HIFAVa) located in French Northern Alps and starting in 1850. This database reports for the first-time flood occurrences and impacts in a well-documented Alpine catchment that encompasses both a hydrological and societal diversity.

We analyze past impacts in regard to their characteristics and evolution in both time and space. Our results show an increasing occurrence of impacts from 1920 onwards, which is more likely related to indirect source effect and/or increasing exposure of goods and people rather than hydrological changes. The analysis reveals that small mountain streams and particularly glacial streams caused more impacts (67 %) than the main river. While increase in heavy rainfall and ice melt are expected to enhance flood hazard in small Alpine catchments, this finding calls to pay a particular attention to flood risk assessment and management in small catchments.

Eva Boisson et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-169', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Jun 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Eva Boisson, 21 Sep 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2021-169', Neil Macdonald, 28 Jul 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Eva Boisson, 21 Sep 2021

Eva Boisson et al.

Eva Boisson et al.

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Short summary
We present the database of Historical Impacts of Floods in the Arve Valley (HIFAVa). It reports flood occurrences and impacts (1850–2015) in a French Alpine catchment. Our results show an increasing occurrence of impacts from 1920 onwards, which is more likely related to indirect source effect and/or increasing exposure rather than hydrological changes. The analysis reveals that small mountain streams caused more impacts (67 %) than the main river.
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