Understanding flood regime changes in Europe: a state-of-the-art assessment
There is growing concern that flooding is becoming more frequent and severe in Europe. A better understanding of flood regime changes and their drivers is therefore needed. The paper reviews the current knowledge on flood regime changes in European rivers that has traditionally been obtained through two alternative research approaches. The first approach is the data-based detection of changes in observed flood events. Current methods are reviewed together with their challenges and opportunities. For example, observation biases, the merging of different data sources and accounting for nonlinear drivers and responses. The second approach consists of modelled scenarios of future floods. Challenges and opportunities associated with flood change scenarios are discussed such as fully accounting for uncertainties in the modelling cascade and feedbacks. To make progress in flood change research, we suggest that a synthesis of these two approaches is needed. This can be achieved by focusing on long duration records and flood-rich and flood-poor periods rather than on short duration flood trends only, by formally attributing causes of observed flood changes, by validating scenarios against observed flood regime dynamics, and by developing low-dimensional models of flood changes and feedbacks. The paper finishes with a call for a joint European flood change research network.