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Abstract

Extreme flood estimates for dam safety are routinely obtained from hydrologic simulations driven by selected design storms. The temporal structure of such design storms can be obtained from Rainfall Mass Curves (RMCs), which are adimensionalized curves of the cumulative precipitation depth as a function of event duration. This paper assesses for the first time the spatialand temporal variability of observed RMCs for Switzerland, an Alpine region with complex topography. The relevance of the detected RMC variability for extreme flood estimation is illustrated based on an application to a high elevation catchment, the Mattmark dam catchment in the Swiss Alps. The obtained results underline that quantile RCMs represent a simple yet powerful tool to construct design storms for dam safety verification and that regional, seasonal and event-duration effects on RMCs are small enough to justify the use of a unique set of Swiss-wide quantile RMCs. The presented analysis could be refined in the future by explicitly accounting for orographic, convective or frontal precipitation events.

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