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Recent flood hazards in Kashmir put into context with millennium-long historical and tree-ring records

Ballesteros-Canovas, JA; Koul, T; Bashir, A; Bodoque, JM; Allen, S; Guillet, S; Rashid, I; ... Stoffel, M; + view all (2020) Recent flood hazards in Kashmir put into context with millennium-long historical and tree-ring records. Science of The Total Environment , 722 , Article 137875. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137875. Green open access

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Abstract

In September 2014, the Kashmir valley (north-west India) experienced a massive flood causing significant economic losses and fatalities. This disaster underlined the high vulnerability of the local population and raised questions regarding the resilience of Kashmiris to future floods. Although the magnitude of the 2014 flood has been considered unprecedented within the context of existing measurements, we argue that the short flow series may lead to spurious misinterpretation of the probability of such extreme events. Here we use a millennium-long record of past floods in Kashmir based on historical and tree-ring records to assess the probability of 2014-like flood events in the region. Our flood chronology (635 CE–nowadays) provides key insights into the recurrence of flood disasters and propels understanding of flood variability in this region over the last millennium, showing enhanced activity during the Little Ice Age. We find that high-impact floods have frequently disrupted the Kashmir valley in the past. Thus, the inclusion of historical records reveals large flood hazard levels in the region. The newly gained information also underlines the critical need to take immediate action in the region, so as to reduce the exposure of local populations and to increase their resilience, despite existing constraints in watershed management related to the Indus Water Treaty.

Type: Article
Title: Recent flood hazards in Kashmir put into context with millennium-long historical and tree-ring records
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137875
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137875
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Flood, Historical records, Tree rings, Kashmir, Jhelum River, Indus Water Treaty
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Inst for Risk and Disaster Reduction
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10117787
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