Abstract

Flooding during or after droughts poses significant challenges to disaster risk management. However, interactions between droughts and floods are often overlooked as studies typically analyse these events in isolation. Here we explore historical occurrences of compound and consecutive drought-flood events and drought effects on flood severity and timing by analysing global datasets of hydrometeorological and biophysical variables for 8255 catchments worldwide. These data show that 24% of floods globally (anomalies above the 85th percentile) are preceded by, or happen during, drought conditions. Flood events occurring during drought conditions are typically of lower magnitude, especially in arid regions, while floods following drought events have a severity distribution comparable to single flood events. For most drought-flood events, flood timing appears relatively unaffected by drought conditions, but almost a quarter of the drought-flood events had flood timings occurring two to three months later than expected. These shifts in flood timing suggest droughts potentially affect flood-generating processes. As both drought and flood occurrences are projected to increase in a warming climate, interactions between them may become more common and need to be accounted for in flood risk assessment and management.

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