Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Coupled Land-Atmosphere Dynamics Govern Long Duration Floods: A Pilot Study in Missouri River Basin Using a Bayesian Hierarchical Model

Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 13:40
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Long duration floods cause substantial damages and prolonged interruptions to water resource facilities and critical infrastructure. We present a novel generalized statistical and physical based model for flood duration with a deeper understanding of dynamically coupled nexus of the land surface wetness, effective atmospheric circulation and moisture transport/release. We applied the model on large reservoirs in the Missouri River Basin. The results indicate that the flood duration is not only a function of available moisture in the air, but also the antecedent condition of the blocking system of atmospheric pressure, resulting in enhanced moisture convergence, as well as the effectiveness of moisture condensation process leading to release. Quantifying these dynamics with a two-layer climate informed Bayesian multilevel model, we explain more than 80% variations in flood duration. The model considers the complex interaction between moisture transport, synoptic-to-large-scale atmospheric circulation pattern, and the antecedent wetness condition in the basin. Our findings suggest that synergy between a large low-pressure blocking system and a higher rate of divergent wind often triggers a long duration flood, and the prerequisite for moisture supply to trigger such event is moderate, which is more associated with magnitude than duration. In turn, this condition causes an extremely long duration flood if the surface wetness rate advancing to the flood event was already increased.

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