EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Quantifying the impact of soil moisture dynamics on UK flood hazard under climate change

Youtong Rong, Paul Bates, and Jeffrey Neal
Youtong Rong et al.
  • University of Bristol, Faculty of Science, Geographical Sciences, Bristol, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (

Extreme precipitation events are expected to intensify with global warming, and naturally a widespread assumption is that the intensity and frequency of flooding will grow with the heavier downpours under climate change. However, flood magnitude is not only dependent on the spatial distribution, time evolution and rarity of precipitation, antecedent soil moisture and snowmelt are also the potential controls on flood hazard. Few studies have jointly quantified the influence of soil moisture dynamics and spatiotemporal distribution of precipitation on flood amplitude, though many research attempted to explain the elusive relationship between rainfall and flood conceptually. Here, the connections of changes in extreme precipitation and direct surface water flooding intensities in the periods of 1981-2000, 2021-2040 and 2061-2080 are quantified in 6 study areas in the UK, with high-resolution spatial and temporal characteristics of hourly rainfall data from UKCP Local 2.2 km. Dynamic soil moisture is modeled empirically and continuously to capture the moisture variation and infiltration loss, and distributed rainfall-runoff is calculated on the uneven terrain with the sub-grid river channel model in LISFLOOD-FP. Results indicate a strong correlation of the extreme rainfall and flood magnitude changes with the capacity of the soil moisture. Extreme precipitation can be magnified in rainy seasons due to amplified moisture convergence, while in dry periods limited moisture availability may offset extreme precipitation increases.

How to cite: Rong, Y., Bates, P., and Neal, J.: Quantifying the impact of soil moisture dynamics on UK flood hazard under climate change, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-3213,, 2022.


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