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An analytical model of the effects of catchment elevation on the flood frequency distribution
 

Summary: An analytical model of the effects of catchment
elevation on the flood frequency distribution
P. Allamano,1
P. Claps,1
and F. Laio1
Received 14 November 2007; revised 26 September 2008; accepted 15 October 2008; published 3 January 2009.
[1] The effect of temperature on the flood frequency distribution in mountainous basins is
examined through a minimalist analytical model. The conceptual hypothesis on which
the model is grounded is the existence of a subtractive mechanism that reduces the
basin-contributing area in flood formation to the fraction of basin laying below
the freezing elevation at the time of occurrence of each precipitation event. This fraction
depends on the watershed hypsometric curve and on the seasonal evolution of
temperatures. Under this hypothesis, the probability distribution of the annual maximum
discharge is analytically derived, based on simple assumptions on the stochastic process of
precipitation. The shape and the moments of this distribution explicitly relate to
basin hypsometry and to the seasonality of temperatures. Qualitative results show that the
simple causative mechanisms can explain the attenuation of flood quantiles in
high-elevation basins. Model application to 57 watersheds in the Northwestern Italian
Alps effectively demonstrates the role of the hypsography in explaining the spatial
variability of the mean of the flood distribution.

  

Source: Allamano, Paola - Dipartimento di Idraulica,Trasporti e Infrastrutture Civili, Politecnico di Torino
Claps, Pierluigi - Dipartimento di Idraulica,Trasporti e Infrastrutture Civili, Politecnico di Torino
Laio, Francesco - Dipartimento di Idraulica,Trasporti e Infrastrutture Civili, Politecnico di Torino

 

Collections: Engineering; Environmental Management and Restoration Technologies; Geosciences