Improving at-site flood frequency analysis with additional spatial information: a probabilistic regional envelope curve approach

  • Daryl Lam
  • Chris Thompson
  • Jacky Croke
Original Paper


Extreme flood events have detrimental effects on society, the economy and the environment. Widespread flooding across South East Queensland in 2011 and 2013 resulted in the loss of lives and significant cost to the economy. In this region, flood risk planning and the use of traditional flood frequency analysis (FFA) to estimate both the magnitude and frequency of the 1-in-100 year flood is severely limited by short gauging station records. On average, these records are 42 years in Eastern Australia and many have a poor representation of extreme flood events. The major aim of this study is to test the application of an alternative method to estimate flood frequency in the form of the Probabilistic Regional Envelope Curve (PREC) approach which integrates additional spatial information of extreme flood events. In order to better define and constrain a working definition of an extreme flood, an Australian Envelope Curve is also produced from available gauging station data. Results indicate that the PREC method shows significant changes to the larger recurrence intervals (≥100 years) in gauges with either too few, or too many, extreme flood events. A decision making process is provided to ascertain when this method is preferable for FFA.


Extreme event Flood frequency analysis Probabilistic regional envelope curve Australian envelope curve Extreme flood Eastern Australia 



This research was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Award (LP120200093). DL is supported by a University of Queensland (UQ) International Postgraduate Award Scholarship. Dr. Simon Blomberg is thanked for his statistical inputs. Dr. Anthony Kiem is thanked for his constructive comments from an earlier draft. We are grateful for the constructive comments by the reviewers.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography, Planning and Environmental ManagementThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Science, Information Technology, and InnovationBrisbaneAustralia

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