Contrasting rainfall-runoff characteristics of floods in desert and Mediterranean basins

Zoccatelli, Davide; Marra, Francesco; Armon, Moshe; Rinat, Yair; Smith, James A.; Morin, Efrat

Catchment-scale hydrological studies on drylands are lacking because of the scarcity of consistent data: observations are often available at the plot scale, but their relevance for the catchment scale remains unclear. A database of 24 years of stream gauge discharge and homogeneous high-resolution radar data over the eastern Mediterranean allows us to describe the properties of floods over catchments spanning from desert to Mediterranean climates, and we note that the data set is mostly of moderate intensity floods. Comparing two climatic regions, desert and Mediterranean, we can better identify specific rainfall-runoff properties. Despite the large differences in rainfall forcing between the two regions, the resulting unit peak discharges and runoff coefficients are comparable. Rain depth and antecedent conditions are the most important properties to shape flood response in Mediterranean areas. In deserts, instead, storm core properties display a strong correlation with unit peak discharge and, to a lesser extent, with runoff coefficient. In this region, an inverse correlation with mean catchment annual precipitation suggests also a strong influence of local surface properties. Preliminary analyses suggest that floods in catchments with wet headwater and dry lower section are more similar to desert catchments, with a strong influence of storm core properties on runoff generation.

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Zoccatelli, Davide / Marra, Francesco / Armon, Moshe / et al: Contrasting rainfall-runoff characteristics of floods in desert and Mediterranean basins. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Davide Zoccatelli et al.

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