Articles | Volume 4, issue 2
Research article
 | Highlight paper
12 May 2023
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 12 May 2023

What distinguishes 100-year precipitation extremes over central European river catchments from more moderate extreme events?

Florian Ruff and Stephan Pfahl


Interactive discussion

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on wcd-2022-54', Anonymous Referee #1, 07 Dec 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1 and RC2', Florian Ruff, 25 Jan 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on wcd-2022-54', Anonymous Referee #2, 13 Dec 2022

Peer review completion

AR: Author's response | RR: Referee report | ED: Editor decision | EF: Editorial file upload
AR by Florian Ruff on behalf of the Authors (22 Feb 2023)  Author's response   Author's tracked changes   Manuscript 
ED: Referee Nomination & Report Request started (24 Feb 2023) by Gwendal Rivière
RR by Anonymous Referee #1 (10 Mar 2023)
RR by Anonymous Referee #2 (24 Mar 2023)
ED: Publish as is (24 Mar 2023) by Gwendal Rivière
AR by Florian Ruff on behalf of the Authors (04 Apr 2023)
Executive editor
Understanding the specific dynamical processes leading to extreme floods is an important but challenging task. Ruff and Pfahl used an innovative approach that allowed them to go beyond single case studies. They used operational ensemble forecasts from the ECMWF during the period 2003-2019 and focused on five major river catchments in Central Europe. Comparing extreme events (with a return period of 100 years) with more moderate events revealed important differences between the catchments. For some catchments the main factors that distinguish 100-year events were the intensity of the upper-level cutoff and surface cyclone, whereas in other catchments the main factor was an increased low-tropospheric moisture supply. The original results clearly illustrate that regional variability is substantial and no single atmospheric process can be claimed responsible for the distinction between extreme and moderate flood events.
Short summary
In this study, we analyse the generic atmospheric processes of very extreme, 100-year precipitation events in large central European river catchments and the corresponding differences to less extreme events, based on a large time series (~1200 years) of simulated but realistic daily precipitation events from the ECMWF. Depending on the catchment, either dynamical mechanisms or thermodynamic conditions or a combination of both distinguish 100-year events from less extreme precipitation events.