This study investigates whether long-term changes in observed series of high flows can be attributed to changes in land use via nonstationary flood-frequency analyses. A point process characterization of threshold exceedances is used, which allows for direct inclusion of covariates in the model; as well as a nonstationary model for block maxima series. In particular, changes in annual, winter, and summer block maxima and peaks over threshold extracted from gauged instantaneous flows records in two hydrologically similar catchments located in proximity to one another in northern England are investigated. The study catchment is characterized by large increases in urbanization levels in recent decades, while the paired control catchment has remained undeveloped during the study period (1970-2010). To avoid the potential confounding effect of natural variability, a covariate which summarizes key climatological properties is included in the flood-frequency model. A significant effect of the increasing urbanization levels on high flows is detected, in particular in the summer season. Point process models appear to be superior to block maxima models in their ability to detect the effect of the increase in urbanization levels on high flows.
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