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Inicio  /  Water  /  Vol: 15 Par: 20 (2023)  /  Artículo

Changes in Magnitude and Shifts in Timing of Australian Flood Peaks

Mohammed Abdul Bari    
Gnanathikkam Emmanuel Amirthanathan    
Fitsum Markos Woldemeskel and Paul Martinus Feikema    


We analysed changes in magnitude and timing of the largest annual observed daily flow (Amax), in each water year, for 596 stations in high-value water resource catchments and flood risk locations across Australia. These stations are either included in the Bureau of Meteorology?s Hydrologic Reference Stations or used in its operational flood forecasting services. Monotonic trend (which is either consistently increasing or decreasing) analyses of the magnitude and timing of flood peaks (estimated using Amax) were performed using the Theil?Sen and Mann?Kendall approaches and circular statistics to identify the strength of seasonality and timing. We analysed regional significance across different drainage divisions using the Walker test. Monotonic decreasing trends in Amax flood magnitude were found in the Murray?Darling River Basin and in other drainage divisions in Victoria, southwest and midwest of Western Australia and South Australia. No significant obvious pattern in Amax magnitude was detected in northern Queensland, coastal NSW, central Australia and Tasmania. Monotonic increasing trends were only found in the Tanami?Timor Sea Coast drainage division in northern Australia. Monotonic trends in Amax magnitude were regionally significant at the drainage division scale. We found two distinct patterns in flood seasonality and timing. In the northern and southern parts of Australia, flood peaks generally occur from February to March and August to October, respectively. The strength of this seasonality varies across the country. Weaker seasonality was detected for locations in the Murray?Darling River Basin, and stronger seasonality was evident in northern Australia, the southwest of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. The trends of seasonality and timing reveal that in general, flood peaks have occurred later in the water year in recent years. In northern Australia, flood peaks have generally occurred earlier, at a rate of 12 days/decade. In Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, the trends in timing are generally mixed. However, in the southwest of Western Australia, the largest change in timing was evident, with Amax peaks commencing later at a rate of 15 days/decade. Decadal variability in flood timing was found at the drainage division scale as well. Most stations show a decreasing trend in Amax magnitude, but how that trend is associated with the change in timing is not clear.

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