A framework approach for unravelling the impact of multiple factors influencing flooding

Gai, L.; Baartman, J.E.M.; Mendoza-Carranza, M.; Wang, F.; Ritsema, C.J.; Geissen, V.


To have a better understanding of the influence of topographic, climatic, and, especially, anthropogenic factors on hydrological discharge and flooding, this study proposes a new framework approach using a set of methods to answer the questions why, where, when, and how flooding occurs. Including conditional inference tree (CIT), cross-correlation, and double-mass curves analysis, the approach is demonstrated in an application to the Wei River Basin, China. From the CIT analysis, dam construction period was identified as the most important factor (why), and the sub-catchment farthest upstream contributed the most to the flooding of the downstream floodplain (where). We then analysed the effect of the periods of dam construction on the time lag change (when) and the precipitation-discharge relationship (how) using cross-correlation analysis and double-mass curves analysis, respectively. The results suggested that the dam construction delayed the precipitation for 0.4days on average compared to before the dam construction period, and the discharge at the outlet of the basin was reduced by 44%. This framework approach is promising as it can quantitatively evaluate the importance of multiple factors on multiple years of flooding, while many studies evaluate single flooding events.