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Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 271-285, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-18-271-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
19 Jan 2018
The influence of antecedent conditions on flood risk in sub-Saharan Africa
Konstantinos Bischiniotis1, Bart van den Hurk1,2, Brenden Jongman1,3, Erin Coughlan de Perez1,4,5, Ted Veldkamp1, Hans de Moel1, and Jeroen Aerts1 1Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands
2Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, 3731 GA, the Netherlands
3Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), World Bank, Washington DC, USA
4International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
5Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, The Hague, 2521 CV, the Netherlands
Abstract. Most flood early warning systems have predominantly focused on forecasting floods with lead times of hours or days. However, physical processes during longer timescales can also contribute to flood generation. In this study, we follow a pragmatic approach to analyse the hydro-meteorological pre-conditions of 501 historical damaging floods from 1980 to 2010 in sub-Saharan Africa. These are separated into (a) weather timescale (0–6 days) and (b) seasonal timescale conditions (up to 6 months) before the event. The 7-day precipitation preceding a flood event (PRE7) and the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) are analysed for the two timescale domains, respectively. Results indicate that high PRE7 does not always generate floods by itself. Seasonal SPEIs, which are not directly correlated with PRE7, exhibit positive (wet) values prior to most flood events across different averaging times, indicating a relationship with flooding. This paper provides evidence that bringing together weather and seasonal conditions can lead to improved flood risk preparedness.

Citation: Bischiniotis, K., van den Hurk, B., Jongman, B., Coughlan de Perez, E., Veldkamp, T., de Moel, H., and Aerts, J.: The influence of antecedent conditions on flood risk in sub-Saharan Africa, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 271-285, https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-18-271-2018, 2018.
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Short summary
Preparedness activities and flood forecasting have received increasing attention and have led towards new science-based early warning systems. Understanding the flood triggering mechanisms will result in increasing warning lead times, providing sufficient time for early action. Findings of this study indicate that the consideration of short- and long-term antecedent conditions can be used by humanitarian organizations and decision makers for improved flood risk management.
Preparedness activities and flood forecasting have received increasing attention and have led...
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