Soil buffer limits flash flood response to extraordinary rainfall in a Dutch lowland catchment

C.C. Brauer, R. Teuling, A.J. Overeem, Y. van der Velde, P. Hazenberg, P.M.M. Warmerdam, R. Uijlenhoet

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperAcademic


On 26 August 2010 the eastern part of The Netherlands and the bordering part of Germany were struck by a series of very heavy rainfall events lasting for more than a day. Over an area of 740 km2 more than 120 mm of rainfall was observed in 24 hours. This extreme event resulted in local flooding of city centres, highways and agricultural fields, and considerable financial loss. In this paper we report on the unprecedented flash flood triggered by this exceptionally heavy rainfall event in the 6.5 km2 Hupsel Brook catchment, which has been the experimental watershed employed byWageningen University since the 1960s. This study aims to improve our understanding of the dynamics of such lowland flash floods. We present a detailed hydrometeorological analysis of this extreme event, focusing on its synoptic meteorological characteristics, its space-time rainfall dynamics as observed with rain gauges, weather radar and a microwave link, as well as the measured soil moisture, groundwater and discharge response of the catchment. At the Hupsel Brook catchment 159.5 mm of rainfall was observed in 24 h, corresponding to an estimated return period in the order of 6000 years. As a result, discharge at the catchment outlet increased from 4.4 l s1 to nearly 5 m3 s1 (i.e. a specific discharge of 0.77 m3 s1 km2, or 2.8 mmh1). Within 7 hours discharge rose from 50 to 4.5 m3 s1. The catchment response can be divided into four phases: (1) soil moisture reservoir filling, (2) groundwater response, (3) surface depression filling and surface runoff and (4) backwater feedback. The first 35 mm of rainfall were stored in the soil without a significant increase in discharge. Rela20 tively dry initial conditions (in comparison to those
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Geophysical Research Abstract EGU 2011, 03-08 April. 2011, Vienna, Austria
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventEGU General Assembly 2011 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 3 Apr 20118 Apr 2011


ConferenceEGU General Assembly 2011


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