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Paleofloods stage a comeback

Geological and botanical archives can preserve evidence of exceptional floods going back centuries to millennia. Updated risk guidelines offer a new opportunity to apply lessons from paleoflood hydrology to judge the odds of future floods.

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Fig. 1: Estimating flood risk by combining gauge, historic and paleoflood data.


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We appreciate support from the US National Science Foundation (award 1830640, ‘Paleohydrological assessment of extreme flooding events’). The final version of this Comment was improved by suggestions from L. Davis, D. Lam, T. Liu and A. Díez Herrero. Discharge data for the Red River of the North was kindly provided by F. Unduche (Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation). We also acknowledge use of the USGS PeakFQ program ( This Comment is a contribution to the PAGES Floods Working Group (

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S.S.-G. developed the concept for this opinion piece, led the writing, and created the illustration; A.M.H. identified case studies in the paleoflood literature and edited the manuscript; J.A. conducted the flood frequency analysis and edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Scott St. George.

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St. George, S., Hefner, A.M. & Avila, J. Paleofloods stage a comeback. Nat. Geosci. 13, 766–768 (2020).

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