On the objective identification of flood seasons



[1] The determination of seasons of high and low probability of flood occurrence is a task with many practical applications in contemporary hydrology and water resources management. Flood seasons are generally identified subjectively by visually assessing the temporal distribution of flood occurrences and, then at a regional scale, verified by comparing the temporal distribution with distributions obtained at hydrologically similar neighboring sites. This approach is subjective, time consuming, and potentially unreliable. The main objective of this study is therefore to introduce a new, objective, and systematic method for the identification of flood seasons. The proposed method tests the significance of flood seasons by comparing the observed variability of flood occurrences with the theoretical flood variability in a nonseasonal model. The method also addresses the uncertainty resulting from sampling variability by quantifying the probability associated with the identified flood seasons. The performance of the method was tested on an extensive number of samples with different record lengths generated from several theoretical models of flood seasonality. The proposed approach was then applied on real data from a large set of sites with different flood regimes across Great Britain. The results show that the method can efficiently identify flood seasons from both theoretical and observed distributions of flood occurrence. The results were used for the determination of the main flood seasonality types in Great Britain.