EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Reconciling disagreement on global river flood changes in a warming climate

Shulei Zhang
Shulei Zhang
  • Sun Yat-sen University, China (

An intensified hydrological cycle with global warming is expected to increase the intensity and frequency of extreme precipitation events. However, whether and to what extent the enhanced extreme precipitation translates into changes in river floods remains controversial. Here, we demonstrate that previously reported unapparent or even negative responses of river flood discharge (defined as annual maximum discharge) to extreme precipitation increases are largely caused by mixing the signal of floods with different generating mechanisms. Stratifying by flood types, we show a positive response of rainstorm-induced floods to extreme precipitation increases. However, this response is almost entirely offset by the concurrent decreases in snow-related floods, leading to an overall unapparent change in total global floods in both historical observations and future climate projections. Our findings highlight an increasing rainstorm-induced flood risk under warming and the importance of distinguishing flood-generating mechanisms in assessing flood changes and associated social-economic and environmental risks.

How to cite: Zhang, S.: Reconciling disagreement on global river flood changes in a warming climate, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-15900,, 2023.