Tropical cyclone triggering of sediment discharge in Taiwan

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Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface
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Sep 19
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[ 1] The impact of tropical cyclones on precipitation variability and surface processes in Taiwan is studied using suspended sediment and river discharge data along with a meteorological model of tropical cyclone dynamics. The interactions between tropical cyclones and topography produce distinctive, localized patterns of heavy precipitation that can trigger high sediment discharge in Taiwan's rivers. We focus on Typhoon Toraji, which made landfall in Taiwan on 30 July 2001 and was the first major tropical cyclone to affect Taiwan after the 1999 Chichi earthquake. The passage of the tropical cyclone eye over the east coast of Taiwan produced intense rainfall (> 100 mm h(-1)) for a short period ( about 2 hours), triggering the highest sediment concentration ever recorded on the Hualien River. Orographic effects localized heavy rainfall ( between 10 and 50 mm h(-1)) over the southwestern slopes of the Central Mountain Range, triggering high sediment discharge on the Kaoping River and flushing landslide debris produced during the Chichi earthquake into the Choshui River. We show that a range of atmospheric processes, with distinctive spatial variability and varying degrees of coupling to topography, interacted with tectonic processes of limited spatial extent to produce the overall sediment discharge from Taiwan during Typhoon Toraji. Landscape evolution models may need to be modified to account for the distinctive patterns of localized rainfall in tropical mountain belts. Furthermore, the links between tropical cyclones and topography suggest the potential for a range of previously unrecognized feedbacks between tectonics and climate in tropical mountain belts.


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Doi 10.1029/2005jf000428