EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Evaluating nature-based solutions in a non-stationary climate with changing risk of flooding

Sisay Debele1, Jeetendra Sahani1, Silvia Maria Alfieri3, Paul Bowyer4, Nikos Charizopoulos5,6, Michael Loupis7,8, Massimo Menenti3,9, Fabrice Renaud10, Mohammad Aminur Rahman Shah10, Christos Spyrou7,11, Thomas Zieher12, Silvana Di Sabatino13, and Prashant Kumar1,2
Sisay Debele et al.
  • 1Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XH, United Kingdom
  • 2Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  • 3Department of Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 4Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Hamburg, Germany
  • 5Agricultural University of Athens, Laboratory of Mineralogy-Geology, Iera Odos 75, 118 55 Athens, Greece
  • 6Region of Sterea Ellada, Kalivion 2, 351 32, Lamia, Greece
  • 7Innovative Technologies Center S.A., Alketou Str. 25, 11633 Athens, Greece
  • 8National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Psachna 34400, Greece
  • 9Aerospace Information Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 10School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, Dumfries Campus, DG1 4ZL, United Kingdom
  • 11Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing (IAASARS), National Observatory of Athens,15236 Athens, Greece
  • 12Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Technikerstr. 21a, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 13Department of Physics and Astronomy (DIFA), University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy


Under climate change scenarios, it is important to evaluate the changes in recent behavior of heavy precipitation events, the resulting flood risk, and the detrimental impacts of the peak flow of water on human well-being, properties, infrastructure, and the natural environment. Normally, flood risk is estimated using the stationary flood frequency analysis technique. However, a site’s hydroclimate can shift beyond the range of historical observations considering continuing global warming. Therefore, flood-like distributions capable of accounting for changes in the parameters over time should be considered. The main objective of this study is to apply non-stationary flood frequency models using the generalized extreme value (GEV) distribution to model the changes in flood risk under two scenarios: (1) without nature-based solutions (NBS) in place and; (2) with NBS i.e. wetlands, retention ponds and weir/low head dam implemented. In the GEV model, the first two moments i.e. location and scale parameters of the distribution were allowed to change as a function of time-variable covariates, estimated by maximum likelihood. The methodology is applied to OPEn-air laboRAtories for Nature baseD solUtions to Manage hydro-meteo risks, which is in Europe. The time-dependent 100-year design quantiles were estimated for both the scenarios. We obtained daily precipitation data of climate models from the EURO-CORDEX project dataset for 1951–2020 and 2022–2100 representing historical and future simulations, respectively. The hydrologic model, HEC-HMS was used to simulate discharges/flood hydrograph without and with NBS in place for these two periods: historical (1951-2020) and future (2022-2100). The results showed that the corresponding time-dependent 100-year floods were remarkably high for the without NBS scenario in both the periods. Particularly, the high emission scenario (RCP 8.5) resulted in dramatically increased flood risks in the future. The simulation without NBS also showed that flooded area is projected to increase by 25% and 40% for inundation depth between 1.5 and 3.5 m under RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios, respectively. For inundation depth above 3.5 m, the flooded area is anticipated to rise by 30% and 55% in both periods respectively. With the implementation of NBS, the flood risk was projected to decrease by 20% (2022–2050) and 45% (2071–2100) with a significant decrease under RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios. This study can help improve existing methods to adapt to the uncertainties in a changing environment, which is critical to develop climate-proof NBS and improve NBS planning, implementation, and effectiveness assessment.

Keywords: Nature-based solutions; flood frequency analysis; climate change; wetlands; GEV model


This work has been carried out under the framework of OPERANDUM (OPEn-air laboRAtories for Nature baseD solUtions to Manage hydro-meteo risks) project, which is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Grant Agreement No: 776848.

How to cite: Debele, S., Sahani, J., Alfieri, S. M., Bowyer, P., Charizopoulos, N., Loupis, M., Menenti, M., Renaud, F., Shah, M. A. R., Spyrou, C., Zieher, T., Di Sabatino, S., and Kumar, P.: Evaluating nature-based solutions in a non-stationary climate with changing risk of flooding, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8012,, 2021.

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