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Geo-historical database of flood impacts in Alpine catchments (HIFAVa database, Arve River, France, 1850-2015)

Abstract : In France, flooding is the most common and damaging natural hazard (CCR, 2021). Global warming is expected to exacerbate flood risk and could be more pronounced in the European Alps which are experiencing a high warming rate, likely to lead to heavier rainfall events. Alpine valleys are densely populated, potentially increasing exposure and vulnerability to flood hazard. The study of historical records is highly relevant to understand long-term flood occurrence and related socio-economic impacts in relation to changes in the flood risk components (i.e. hazard, exposure and vulnerability).

To this aim we introduce the newly constituted database of Historical Impacts of Floods in the Arve Valley (HIFAVa) located in the French northern Alps starting in 1850. This quite unique database reports historical impacts related to impact events occurrences in a well-documented Alpine catchment that encompasses both hydrological and socio-economical diversity.

After a complete description of the database (collection, content and structure), we explore the distribution of the recorded impacts with respect to their characteristics and evolution in both time and space. The analysis reveals that small mountain streams and particularly glacial streams caused more impacts (67 %) than the main river. While an increase in heavy rainfall and ice melt are expected to enhance flood hazard in small Alpine catchments, this finding calls for greater attention to flood risk assessment and management in small catchments. The analysis also reveals an increasing occurrence of impacts from 1920 onwards, for which possible factors are discussed. Further work is, however, needed to conclude on the respective contribution of the source effect, the increase in flood hazard, or the exposure of goods and people.

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Submitted on : Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - 3:12:40 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, August 2, 2022 - 3:10:27 AM

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Eva Boisson, Bruno Wilhelm, Emmanuel Garnier, Alain Mélo, Sandrine Anquetin, et al.. Geo-historical database of flood impacts in Alpine catchments (HIFAVa database, Arve River, France, 1850-2015). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, Copernicus Publ. / European Geosciences Union, 2022, 22, pp.831-847. ⟨10.5194/nhess-22-831-2022⟩. ⟨insu-03706384⟩

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