How Wetlands Affect Floods

Abstract

It is widely recognised that wetlands play an important role in the hydrological cycle, influencing groundwater recharge, low flows, evaporation and floods. This has led to policies being formulated world-wide to conserve and manage wetlands to deliver these key services, especially flood risk reduction. Generic statements have often been published about wetland hydrological services but the term “wetlands” covers many land types, including wet woodlands, reedbeds, peat bogs, fens, and salt marshes. Each of these wetland types can have a hydrological function that is subtly different, making it difficult to generalise the flood reduction services of wetlands. In this paper we focus on two example wetland types (upland rain-fed wetlands and floodplain wetlands) to demonstrate why there are differences in flood functions both within and between wetland types. Upland wetlands generally tend to be flood generating areas while floodplain wetlands have a greater potential to reduce floods. However, landscape location and configuration, soil characteristics, topography, soil moisture status and management all influence whether these wetlands provide flood reduction services.

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Acreman, M., Holden, J. How Wetlands Affect Floods. Wetlands 33, 773–786 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-013-0473-2

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Keywords

  • Wetlands
  • Floods
  • Water storage
  • Runoff generation
  • Water table
  • Peat
  • Hydrology