Articles | Volume 370
Proc. IAHS, 370, 201–208, 2015
Proc. IAHS, 370, 201–208, 2015

  11 Jun 2015

11 Jun 2015

Operational tools to help stakeholders to protect and alert municipalities facing uncertainties and changes in karst flash floods

V. Borrell Estupina1, F. Raynaud1, N. Bourgeois2, L. Kong-A-Siou2, L. Collet1, E. Haziza2, and E. Servat3 V. Borrell Estupina et al.
  • 1University of Montpellier – HydroSciences Montpellier UMR5569, 2 Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier CEDEX 5, France
  • 2MAYANE, 173 chemin de Fescau, 34980 Montferrier sur Lez, France
  • 3IRD – IM2E, 2 Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier CEDEX 5, France

Abstract. Flash floods are often responsible for many deaths and involve many material damages. Regarding Mediterranean karst aquifers, the complexity of connections, between surface and groundwater, as well as weather non-stationarity patterns, increase difficulties in understanding the basins behaviour and thus warning and protecting people. Furthermore, given the recent changes in land use and extreme rainfall events, knowledge of the past floods is no longer sufficient to manage flood risks. Therefore the worst realistic flood that could occur should be considered.

Physical and processes-based hydrological models are considered among the best ways to forecast floods under diverse conditions. However, they rarely match with the stakeholders' needs. In fact, the forecasting services, the municipalities, and the civil security have difficulties in running and interpreting data-consuming models in real-time, above all if data are uncertain or non-existent. To face these social and technical difficulties and help stakeholders, this study develops two operational tools derived from these models. These tools aim at planning real-time decisions given little, changing, and uncertain information available, which are: (i) a hydrological graphical tool (abacus) to estimate flood peak discharge from the karst past state and the forecasted but uncertain intense rainfall; (ii) a GIS-based method (MARE) to estimate the potential flooded pathways and areas, accounting for runoff and karst contributions and considering land use changes. Then, outputs of these tools are confronted to past and recent floods and municipalities observations, and the impacts of uncertainties and changes on planning decisions are discussed. The use of these tools on the recent 2014 events demonstrated their reliability and interest for stakeholders.

This study was realized on French Mediterranean basins, in close collaboration with the Flood Forecasting Services (SPC Med-Ouest, SCHAPI, municipalities).

Short summary
The karst flash floods are responsible for many deaths and involve many material damages. Because they are rapid and intense, they are poorly known, and because the meteorological prediction is very uncertain, the forecasting these floods is a real challenge. To face the karst flash floods forecasting, this study develops two operational tools to help reducing the durations of intervention of the safeguards and optimizing the flood risk planning management.