Africa is severely affected by floods, with an increasing vulnerability to these events in the most recent decades. Our improved preparation against and response to this hazard would benefit from an enhanced understanding of the physical processes at play. Here, a database of 399 African stream gauges is used to analyze the seasonality of observed annual maximum flood, precipitation and soil moisture between 1981 and 2018. The database includes a total of 11,302 flood events, covering most African regions. The analysis is based on directional statistics to compare the annual maximum river flood with annual maximum rainfall and soil moisture. The results show that the annual maximum flood in most areas is more strongly linked to the annual peak of soil moisture than of annual maximum precipitation. In addition, the interannual variability of flood magnitudes is better explained by the variability of annual maximum soil moisture than by the variability in the annual maximum precipitation. These results have important implications for flood forecasting and the analysis of the long-term evolution of these hydrological hazards in relation with their drivers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology
- annual maximum rainfall
- soil moisture