Estimating regional flood discharge during Palaeocene-Eocene global warming (submitted)

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CHEN CHEN, Laure Guerit, Brady Z Foreman, Hima J. Hassenruck-Gudipati, Thierry Adatte, Louis Honegger, Marc Perret, Appy Sluijs, Sebastien Castelltort 


Among the most urgent challenges in future climate change scenarios is accurately predicting the magnitude at which precipitation extremes will intensify. Analogous changes have been reported for an episode of millennial scale 5°C warming termed the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM; 56 Ma), providing independent constraints on hydrological response to global warming. However, quantifying hydrologic extremes during geologic global warming analogs has proven difficult. Here we show that water discharge increased by at least 1.35 and potentially up to 14 times during the PETM in northern Spain. We base these estimates on analyses of channel dimensions, sediment grain size, and palaeochannel gradients across the onset of the PETM, which is regionally marked by an abrupt transition from overbank palaeosol deposits to conglomeratic fluvial sequences. We infer that extreme floods and channel mobility quickly denuded surrounding soil-mantled landscapes, plausibly enhanced by regional vegetation decline, and exported enormous quantities of terrigenous material towards the ocean. These results support hypotheses that extreme rainfall events and associated risks of flooding increase with global warming at similar, but potentially at much higher, magnitudes than currently predicted.



Climate, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geology, Geomorphology, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Sedimentology, Stratigraphy


extreme weather, Flood Risk, Clausius-Clapeyron, Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum


Published: 2018-01-04 02:12


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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