Contrasting rainfall-runoff characteristics of floods in desert and Mediterranean basins

Davide Zoccatelli, Francesco Marra, Moshe Armon, Yair Rinat, James A. Smith, Efrat Morin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Catchment-scale hydrological studies on drylands are lacking because of the scarcity of consistent data: observations are often available at the plot scale, but their relevance for the catchment scale remains unclear. A database of 24 years of stream gauge discharge and homogeneous high-resolution radar data over the eastern Mediterranean allows us to describe the properties of floods over catchments spanning from desert to Mediterranean climates, and we note that the data set is mostly of moderate intensity floods. Comparing two climatic regions, desert and Mediterranean, we can better identify specific rainfall-runoff properties. Despite the large differences in rainfall forcing between the two regions, the resulting unit peak discharges and runoff coefficients are comparable. Rain depth and antecedent conditions are the most important properties to shape flood response in Mediterranean areas. In deserts, instead, storm core properties display a strong correlation with unit peak discharge and, to a lesser extent, with runoff coefficient. In this region, an inverse correlation with mean catchment annual precipitation suggests also a strong influence of local surface properties. Preliminary analyses suggest that floods in catchments with wet headwater and dry lower section are more similar to desert catchments, with a strong influence of storm core properties on runoff generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2665-2678
Number of pages14
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 21 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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