SPATE - Space-Time Dynamics of Extreme Floods

The research unit SPATE is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (FOR 2416) and is coordinated by Ruhr-University of Bochum (Prof. Schumann). The overall goal of SPATE is a better understanding of relevant processes and causes leading to the occurrence of extreme floods. To achieve this, a methodological approach is selected to comprehensively analyze processes in atmosphere, in the catchment and in the river jointly. In SPATE, floods are considered in four clusters: event scale, spatial variability, temporal variability as well as uncertainty and prediction.

SPATE is a joint research unit of seven institutions: Ruhr-University of Bochum, Technical University of Vienna, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University of Hannover, GFZ, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research in Halle (UFZ), Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main und University of Stuttgart.

The GFZ is working on the subproject 3: From small to extreme floods. The project duration at GFZ is from Sept. 2017 to Aug. 2020.

The overarching goal is to achieve a better understanding of causes for the occurrence of extreme floods in comparison to small and medium floods. It is analyzed which factors and whose interactions lead to an increase in the probability of the occurrence of extreme floods.

The research work is structured into three working packages:

WP1 is focused on heavy tails of extreme value distributions of precipitation and discharge. To consider this, a large set of catchment and event indicators is derived. By means of a complex multi-variate data analysis, it is aimed to identify major factors and processes for the occurrence of heavy tails.

In WP2, the superposition of flood waves at the confluence between two rivers is investigated. Specific conditions in the past are derived in which a superposition of flood waves of main river and tributary lead to an increase in the flood volume and flood peak.

Subsequently, in WP3, the knowledge derived from WP1 and WP2 is combined to study non-linearity behavior between small and extreme floods. It is analyzed whether the exceedance of a threshold results in relevant changes in flood characteristics. At this stage, catchment conditions (e.g. soil moisture conditions) and atmospheric situations (e.g. precipitation volume and weather conditions) are jointly considered.

Project website :SPATE (subproject SP3)

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