ISLA Federico Ignacio
ENSO-triggered floods in South America: correlation between maximum monthly discharges during strong events
Hydrology and earth system series
Lugar: vienna; Año: 2018 vol. 107 p. 1 - 13
ENSO-triggered floods altered completely the annual discharge of many watersheds of South America. Anomalous 9 years as 1941, 1982-83, 1997-98 and 2015-16 signified enormous fluvial discharges draining towards the Pacific Ocean, but also to the Atlantic. These floods affected large cities built on medium-latitudinal Andes (Lima, Quito, Salta), but also those located at floodplains, as Porto Alegre, Blumenau, Curitiba, Asunción, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires. Maximum discharge months are particular and easily distinguished along time series from watersheds located at the South American Arid Diagonal. At watersheds conditioned by precipitations delivered from the Atlantic or Pacific anti-cyclonic centers, the ENSO-triggered floods are more difficult to discern. The floods of 1941 affected 70,000 inhabitants in Porto Alegre. In 1983, Blumenau city was flooded during several days; and the Paraná River multiplied 15 times the width of its middle floodplain. That year, the Colorado River in Northern Patagonia connected for the last time to the Desagûadero Chadileuvú - Curacó system and its delta received saline water for the last time. During strong ENSO years the water balances of certain piedmont lakes of Southern Patagonia are modified as the increases in snow accumulations cause high water levels, with a lag of 13 months. The correlation between the maximum monthly discharges of 1982-83 and 1997-98 at different regions and watersheds indicates they can be forecasted for future floods triggered by same phenomena. South American rivers can be classified therefore into ENSO-affected and ENSO-dominated for those within the Arid Diagonal that are exclusively subject to high discharges during those years.