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Climate and floods still govern California levee breaks

Geophysical Research Letters

By:
and
DOI: 10.1029/2007GL031702

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Abstract

Even in heavily engineered river systems, climate still governs flood variability and thus still drives many levee breaks and geomorphic changes. We assemble a 155-year record of levee breaks for a major California river system to find that breaks occurred in 25% of years during the 20th Century. A relation between levee breaks and river discharge is present that sets a discharge threshold above which most levee breaks occurred. That threshold corresponds to small floods with recurrence intervals of ???2-3 years. Statistical analysis illustrates that levee breaks and peak discharges cycle (broadly) on a 12-15 year time scale, in time with warm-wet storm patterns in California, but more slowly or more quickly than ENSO and PDO climate phenomena, respectively. Notably, these variations and thresholds persist through the 20th Century, suggesting that historical flood-control effects have not reduced the occurrence or frequency of levee breaks. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Climate and floods still govern California levee breaks
Series title:
Geophysical Research Letters
DOI:
10.1029/2007GL031702
Volume
34
Issue:
22
Year Published:
2007
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Geophysical Research Letters