The changing nature and projection of floods across Australia

Xihui Gu, Qiang Zhang*, Jianfeng LI, Jianyu Liu, Chong Yu Xu, Peng Sun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Changes in peak magnitude, volume, frequency and duration of floods obtained from a peak-over-threshold sampling in 780 unregulated catchments show significant differences between northern and southern Australia over 1975–2012. Increases of the flood properties are mainly located in northern Australia, while decreases are mostly in southern Australia. These changes could be dominated by inter-annual and/or decadal variability of floods. The multidimensional behaviors of flood change across Australia can be described by three distinct groups (i.e. no changes, increases and decreases in all flood properties), showing strong geographic cohesion. The geographical consistency between the changing patterns of flood properties and spatial patterns of vapor transport anomalies during the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) positive phase could partly explain the geographic cohesion of flood changes. In a warmer future, the observed decreases in floods in southern Australia are projected to continue with high model agreement, while only magnitude and volume of floods in northern Australia are projected to increase but with high uncertainties. The diametric changes in flood magnitude between northern and southern Australia are projected to be more evident in extreme (i.e. 50-year) floods than small (i.e. 5- and 20-year) floods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124703
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Water Science and Technology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Flood frequency
  • Flood magnitude
  • Flood prediction
  • Flood volume
  • Flooding behaviors


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