Dynamics of the flood response to slow-fast landscape-climate feedbacks
- Institute of Hydraulic Engineering, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
Abstract. The dynamical evolution of the flood response to landscape-climate feedbacks is evaluated in a joint nonlinear statistical-dynamical approach. For that purpose, a spatiotemporal sensitivity analysis is conducted on hydrological data from 1976–2008 over 804 catchments throughout Austria, and a general, data-independent nonlinear dynamical model is built linking floods with climate (via precipitation), landscape (via elevation) and their feedbacks. These involve nonlinear scale interactions, with landform evolution processes taking place at the millennial scale (slow dynamics), and climate adjusting in years to decades (fast dynamics). The results show that floods are more responsive to spatial (regional) than to temporal (decadal) variability. Catchments from dry lowlands and high wetlands exhibit similarity between the spatial and temporal sensitivities (spatiotemporal symmetry) and low landscape-climate codependence, suggesting they are not coevolving significantly. However, intermediate regions show differences between those sensitivities (symmetry breaks) and higher landscape-climate codependence, suggesting undergoing coevolution. The break of symmetry is an emergent behaviour from nonlinear feedbacks within the system. A new coevolution index is introduced relating spatiotemporal symmetry with relative characteristic celerities, which need to be taken into account in hydrological space-time trading. Coevolution is expressed here by the interplay between slow and fast dynamics, represented respectively by spatial and temporal characteristics. The dynamical model captures emerging features of the flood dynamics and nonlinear landscape-climate feedbacks, supporting the nonlinear statistical assessment of spatiotemporally asymmetric flood change. Moreover, it enables the dynamical estimation of flood changes in space and time from the given knowledge at different spatiotemporal conditions. This study ultimately brings to light emerging signatures of change in floods arising from nonlinear slow-fast feedbacks in the landscape-climate dynamics, and contributes towards a better understanding of spatiotemporal flood changes and underlying nonlinearly interacting drivers.