How extreme can unit discharge become in steep Norwegian catchments?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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This study presents results of observations and analysis of the flood event in Utvik on 24 July 2017. Observations during and after the event, hydraulic simulations and hydrological modelling along with meteorological observations, are used to estimate the peak discharge of the flood. Although both observations and hydraulic simulations of flood extremes are uncertain, even the most conservative assumptions lead to discharge estimates higher than 160 m3/s at culmination of the flood from the 25 km2-large catchment. The most extreme assumptions indicate it may have been up to 400 m3/s, but there is also strong evidence for the discharge at culmination being between 200 and 250 m3/s. Observations disclosed that the majority of water came from about 50% of the catchment area giving unit discharges up to 18 to 22 m3/s,km2. If the entire catchment contributed it would be from 9 to 11 m3/s,km2. This is significantly higher than previously documented unit discharges in Norway and in the range of the highest observed peak unit discharges in southern Europe. The precipitation causing this event is estimated to be three to five times higher than a 200-year precipitation taken from the intensity–duration–frequency curves for the studied region.