A stochastic event-based approach for flood estimation in catchments with mixed rainfall and snowmelt flood regimes
The estimation of extreme floods is associated with high uncertainty, in part due to the limited length of streamflow records. Traditionally, statistical flood frequency analysis and an event-based model (PQRUT) using a single design storm have been applied in Norway. We here propose a stochastic PQRUT model, as an extension of the standard application of the event-based PQRUT model, by considering different combinations of initial conditions, rainfall and snowmelt, from which a distribution of flood peaks can be constructed. The stochastic PQRUT was applied for 20 small- and medium-sized catchments in Norway and the results give good fits to observed peak-over-threshold (POT) series. A sensitivity analysis of the method indicates (a) that the soil saturation level is less important than the rainfall input and the parameters of the PQRUT model for flood peaks with return periods higher than 100 years and (b) that excluding the snow routine can change the seasonality of the flood peaks. Estimates for the 100- and 1000-year return level based on the stochastic PQRUT model are compared with results for (a) statistical frequency analysis and (b) a standard implementation of the event-based PQRUT method. The differences in flood estimates between the stochastic PQRUT and the statistical flood frequency analysis are within 50 % in most catchments. However, the differences between the stochastic PQRUT and the standard implementation of the PQRUT model are much higher, especially in catchments with a snowmelt flood regime.