PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2023, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (1): 185-196.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2023.01.015

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Progress of research on the methods for the early warning of mountain flash flood disasters

REN Zhihui1,5(), SANG Yanfang1,2,5,*(), YANG Moyuan3, WANG Yueling1, SHANG Li4   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Water Cycle & Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Compound and Chained Natural Hazards, Ministry of Emergency Management of China, Beijing 100085, China
    3. Beijing Water Science and Technology Institute, Beijing 100048, China
    4. Beijing Union University, Beijing 100101, China
    5. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2022-05-27 Revised:2022-09-08 Online:2023-01-28 Published:2023-03-28
  • Contact: SANG Yanfang;
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program of China(2019YFA0606903);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971040)


Accurate and timely warning is vital for the prevention and control of mountain flash flood disasters in small- and medium-sized basins, but it is the most challenging task. Focusing on the key issues of mountain flash flood warning, this study conducted a review on the spatial differences of mountain flash flood disaster characteristics in China, techniques and methods for flash flood warning, and development of probabilistic warning methods for mountain flash flood control. The review indicated that the temporal and spatial differences of the characteristics of mountain flash flood disasters are clear across China, thus it is necessary to develop suitable early warning systems in specific areas based on their special characteristics. The indicator of critical rainfall is an important basis of mountain flash flood warning in China. A fixed critical rainfall estimated by statistical methods or hydrological models, as commonly done in practice, cannot meet the needs because it does not perform well sometimes and cannot adequately address the uncertainty of warning results. Alternatively, probabilistic warning of mountain flash flood disasters, which can quantitatively evaluate the uncertainty of warning results, has theoretical advantages and potentially wide applications, and thus could be a more adaptive approach. In order to develop the probabilistic warning methods of mountain flash flood disasters, the following key issues should be addressed: 1) Mining detailed information from different sources of rainstorm and flash floods data, and developing effective methods for the probabilistic warning of mountain flash flood disasters. 2) Dealing with the nonstationarity issue commonly encountered in hydrological studies, and exploring its influences on the estimation of critical rainfall and the accuracy of probabilistic warning results. 3) Establishing an integrated flash flood warning system by considering both the occurrence probability of critical rainfall and its resulting probability of mountain flash flood disasters for the practical prevention and control of mountain flash flood disasters.

Key words: early warning for mountain flash floods, critical rainfall, spatiotemporal variability, uncertainty, probabilistic distribution