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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 13 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 13 Dec 2019

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Changes in high intensity precipitation on the Northern Apennines (Italy) as revealed by multidisciplinary data over the last 9000 years

Stefano Segadelli1, Federico Grazzini2, Margherita Aguzzi2, Alessandro Chelli3, Veronica Rossi4, Maria T. De Nardo1, Roberto Francese3, Silvia Marvelli5, Marco Marchesini5, and Sandro Nanni2 Stefano Segadelli et al.
  • 1Geological, Seismic and Soil Service, Emilia-Romagna Region Administration, Bologna, Italy
  • 2Regional Agency for Prevention, Environment and Energy of Emilia-Romagna, Hydro-Meteo-Climate Service (ARPAE‐SIMC), Bologna, Italy
  • 3Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, Italy
  • 4Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences - BiGeA, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  • 5Laboratory of Palynology and Archaeobotany - C.A.A. Giorgio Nicoli, San Giovanni in Persiceto, Bologna, Italy

Abstract. Several record-breaking precipitation events have stricken the mountainous area of Emilia-Romagna Region (northern Apennines, Italy) over the last years. As consequence, several geomorphological processes, like widespread debris flows along the slopes and hyperconcentrated flood in the stream channels, shallow landslides and overbank flooding affected the territory, causing serious damages to man-made structures. The intensity and wide spatial scale of these phenomena leads us to investigate their frequency in the past, beyond the instrumental time. A detailed study of these recent deposits compared with fossil peat bog and lake paleodeposits can provide useful insight to support a strong match between precipitation intensity and warm climatic phases in antecedent climatic periods, as expected by the increase air water vapour holding capacity at higher temperatures.

Here we present the results of the field campaign performed in summer 2017 at Lake Moo a 0.15 km2 peat bog located at an altitude of 1130 m a.s.l. The chosen area has been affected, during the flooding of the upper Trebbia and Nure valleys 13–14 September 2015, by several high-density flows generated by the stream that flow into the plain. Our main assumption is that, in such a small drainage basin (area < 2 km2), with favourable geologic and geomorphic characteristics implying advantageous sediment transfer into lake, high density flood can be triggered only by high intensity precipitation events (HIP) lasting enough time for water to infiltrate and mobilize large quantities of debris.

The sedimentary succession (ca. 13 m-thick) was studied through the extraction of two cores and one trench. The facies/paleoenvironmental interpretation of the sedimentary succession, characterized by clusters of coarse-grained alluvial deposits interbedded with organic-rich silty clays and peaty layers, was achieved combining sedimentological and pollen data with pedological data and radiocarbon dating (AMS 14C).

Observed depositional cycles were put in relation with other specific paleoclimatic proxies available in literature for the North-Apennine area. This comparison illustrates that the increase of extreme paleoflood (associated with coarse-grained deposits similar to the ones observed recently) correlates well with warm phases with a maximum activity during the Holocene thermal maximum and from the small ice age to the present day.

Stefano Segadelli et al.

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Stefano Segadelli et al.

Stefano Segadelli et al.


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Latest update: 09 Jul 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
In an attempt to consolidate trends in the hydrological cycle, induced by the recent warming, we conducted a multidisciplinary study, combining meteorological data, climate proxy from literature and original coring and pollen data, acquired in an area which has been hit by record breaking precipitation events. A detailed study of recent flash-flood deposits compared with fossil peat bog and lake sediments support the expected increase of high intensity precipitation during warm climatic phases.
In an attempt to consolidate trends in the hydrological cycle, induced by the recent warming, we...