Responses to Climate Change Program
Utilizing paleoflood data for supporting the decisions of USACE hydrology and hydraulics (H&H) practitioners is the subject of a new investigation and report that synthesizes relevant literature and scientific findings related to USACE H&H assessments. Paleohydrology describes the evidence of the movement of water and sediment in stream channels before the time of continuous hydrologic records or direct measurements. Appropriate Application of Paleoflood Information for the Hydrology and Hydraulics Decisions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (pdf, 2.62 MB) investigates utilization of geologically obtained and hydrologically transformed paleoflood data in both the relatively recent past (50-500 years) to the very distant past (500-10,000 years). The main conclusions of the report are:
Paleoflood information is not relevant for all H&H decisions. For example, if the decision leads to the design or modification of a high hazard dam, then the utility of paleoflood information is minimal, as the current design standard is based on the "Probable Maximum Floods" standard. Paleoflood information is largely site specific. USACE is responsible for many very large facilities that have been altered through time, either by geologic or anthropogenic processes. These facilities are not suitable for paleoflood analysis.
The report is part of a larger effort to explore processes, methods and guidance for hydrology used in climate change impact assessments and adaptation planning and design.
Reviewed 20 June 2016
Download the reader for PDF documents.