Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Assessing long term flash flooding frequency using historical information

Lookup NU author(s): David Archer, Dr Geoffrey ParkinORCiD, Professor Hayley Fowler



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Flash floods are distinguished from ‘normal flooding’ by an abrupt onset arising from intense short period rainfall. Historical information based on pre-gauged descriptive information is used to prepare time series of flash floods for Northeast England and Southwest England as decadal numbers of events from 1800. The time series show a minimum in the late twentieth century for both locations. Flash flood frequency is then assessed for three locations in Northeast England by comparing recent extreme floods with historical accounts: (1) an urban pluvial flood in Newcastle in June 2012, (2) a severe flood in September 1968 on the Cotting Burn, a small ungauged tributary of the River Wansbeck, and (3) an extreme rate of rise in river level on the River Wansbeck in August 1994. Although there have been no comparable recent occurrences, several flash floods of equal or greater magnitude at the same locations were identified from historical accounts. Using the longer historical record in conjunction with limited recent observations has advantages when assessing the frequency of occurrence of rare events. However, these advantages are tempered by the possibility of non-stationarity in the historical series owing to catchment changes, from natural climatic variability and from potential anthropogenic climate change.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Archer DR, Parkin G, Fowler HJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Hydrology Research

Year: 2017

Volume: 48

Issue: 1

Pages: 1-16

Print publication date: 01/02/2017

Online publication date: 09/03/2016

Acceptance date: 22/01/2016

Date deposited: 19/08/2016

ISSN (print): 1998-9563

Publisher: IWA Publishing


DOI: 10.2166/nh.2016.031


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric