Establishing the magnitude and frequency of floods within upland catchments on the basis of short-term gauged runoff records is crucially dependent upon the extent to which the record is truly representative. In the case of the River Dee, upstream of Crathie in Aberdeenshire, gauged discharge records are limited in length. Although the middle Dee has been gauged since 1929, the gauge within the upper catchment has only ten years of record. Thus, reliable estimates of the return intervals of extreme floods for this part of the Dee can only be obtained by using a variety of historical sources to extend the flood series.
Long-term rainfall records, where available, provide a valuable independent check on the reconstructed flood series. Such rainfall records, when analysed in terms of the magnitude, frequency and duration of major events, should, in general terms, correspond with the flood series. In this paper, the recurrence interval of extreme rainfalls of varying magnitude and duration in upper Deeside is estimated by extreme value analysis of the annual maximum series. The frequency of rainfall events above varying thresholds is also assessed. The existence of climatic fluctuations giving highly variable recurrence intervals for rainfall events of the same magnitude is demonstrated. Finally, the seasonality of frequent flood-producing storms is analysed. Patterns observed within the rainfall record are compared with those previously established within the historic flood series to substantiate and augment the flood record.