Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.5194/hess-26-6339-2022
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) River flooding mechanisms and their changes in Europe revealed by explainable machine learning
Author Jiang, S.; Bevacqua, E. ORCID logo ; Zscheischler, J. ORCID logo
Journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
Year 2022
Department CHS
Volume 26
Issue 24
Page From 6339
Page To 6359
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Data and Software links
Abstract Climate change may systematically impact hydrometeorological processes and their interactions, resulting in changes in flooding mechanisms. Identifying such changes is important for flood forecasting and projection. Currently, there is a lack of observational evidence regarding trends in flooding mechanisms in Europe, which requires reliable methods to disentangle emerging patterns from the complex interactions between flood drivers. Recently, numerous studies have demonstrated the skill of machine learning (ML) for predictions in hydrology, e.g., for predicting river discharge based on its relationship with meteorological drivers. The relationship, if explained properly, may provide us with new insights into hydrological processes. Here, by using a novel explainable ML framework, combined with cluster analysis, we identify three primary patterns that drive 53‚ÄČ968 annual maximum discharge events in around a thousand European catchments. The patterns can be associated with three catchment-wide river flooding mechanisms: recent precipitation, antecedent precipitation (i.e., excessive soil moisture), and snowmelt. The results indicate that over half of the studied catchments are controlled by a combination of the above mechanisms, especially recent precipitation in combination with excessive soil moisture, which is the dominant mechanism in one-third of the catchments. Over the past 70 years, significant changes in the dominant flooding mechanisms have been detected within a number of European catchments. Generally, the number of snowmelt-induced floods has decreased significantly, whereas floods driven by recent precipitation have increased. The detected changes in flooding mechanisms are consistent with the expected climate change responses, and we highlight the risks associated with the resulting impact on flooding seasonality and magnitude. Overall, the study offers a new perspective on understanding changes in weather and climate extreme events by using explainable ML and demonstrates the prospect of future scientific discoveries supported by artificial intelligence.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Jiang, S., Bevacqua, E., Zscheischler, J. (2022):
River flooding mechanisms and their changes in Europe revealed by explainable machine learning
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 26 (24), 6339 - 6359