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Features of tropical cyclone-induced flood peaks on Grande Terre, New Caledonia

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New Caledonia, an archipelago of islands in the South Pacific, is periodically affected in the wet season by tropical cyclones that can deliver intense rainfall and cause severe river flooding. On the mountainous island of Grande Terre, the majority of the largest historical flows in the Tontouta River were caused by tropical cyclones and 75% of cyclone-induced floods were overbank events. Discharge data for the Tontouta River over the period 1969–2003 were used to construct partial duration series (PDS) of daily mean and instantaneous flows. The log Pearson Type III distribution provided a good fit to the PDS. Instantaneous flows are much higher than daily flows, reflecting the flashiness of tropical cyclone hydrographs. This highlights the need to use instantaneous flow data, where available, to investigate flood hazards in steep tropical basins impacted by tropical cyclones.
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Keywords: New Caledonia; Tontouta River; partial duration series; peak flows; tropical cyclones

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Geography, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji Islands; 2: Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada; and 3: Observatoire de la Ressource en Eau, Davar, Noumea, New Caledonia

Publication date: 01 September 2008

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