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Historical flood records of the Tagus river: Stationarity and flood hazard analysis

AutorBenito, Gerardo ; Botero, Blanca; Machado, María José
Fecha de publicación6-ago-2012
CitaciónXV International Conference of Historical Geographers. Praga 2012 6-10 August
ResumenThe Tagus river drains the central Spanish Plateau (Meseta) and flows east-west into the Atlantic Ocean at Lisbon. It is the longest river of the Iberian Peninsula (1,200 km) and its flood regime is mainly related to persistent rainfalls associated to successive passage of cold fronts during winter months. Historical flood records at four major locations (Aranjuez, Toledo, Talavera and Alcantara) were derived both from historical documents (Proceedings of the City Council, diaries, chronicles, memoirs, etc.), and indirect sources used at locations where the original documents are non accessible or destroyed. These water levels associated with the different floods (derived from descriptions or epigraphic marks) were converted into discharge values using step-backwater calculations, namely the HEC-RAS software. Flood record stationarity from these censored flood records were checked using Lang¿s test. Some records (e.g. Aranjuez and Toledo) showed problems of stationarity over specific periods. Over the stationary periods, flood frequency analysis using the Maximum Likelihood method was carried out combining historical flood discharges and gauged floods. Because documentary floods are large by definition, their introduction into a flood frequency analysis improved the estimates of the probabilities of rare floods (return periods of 100 years and higher). This was particularly true when 3-parameter distributions were considered. Flood frequency results were compared with other methods (e.g. probably maximum flood; PMF) used for design of high risk structures. The PMF results were unreasonably large in comparison to the documentary flood record.
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