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

Segadelli, Stefano; Grazzini, Federico; Rossi, Veronica; Aguzzi, Margherita; Marvelli, Silvia; Marchesini, Marco; Chelli, Alessandro; Francese, Roberto; De Nardo, Maria Teresa; Nanni, Sandro

Several record-breaking precipitation events have struck the mountainous area of the Emilia–Romagna region (northern Apennines, Italy) over the last 10 years. As a consequence, severe geomorphological processes such as debris avalanches and debris flows, shallow landslides, and overbank flooding have affected the territory, causing severe damage to human-made structures. The unusual intensity of these phenomena prompted an investigation into their frequency in the past, beyond instrumental time. In the quest for an understanding of whether these phenomena are unprecedented in the region, peat bog and lake deposits were analyzed to infer the frequency of extreme precipitation events that may have occurred in the past. We present the results of a dedicated field campaign performed in summer 2017 at Lake Moo in the northern Apennines, a 0.15 kminline-formula2 peat bog located at an altitude of 1130 m a.s.l. During the extreme precipitation event of 13–14 September 2015, several debris flows generated by small streams affected the Lake Moo plain. In such a small drainage basin (inline-formula<2 kminline-formula2), high-density floods can be triggered only by high-intensity precipitation events. The sedimentary succession (ca. 13 m thick) was studied through the drilling of two cores and one trench. The sequence, characterized by clusters of coarse-grained alluvial deposits interbedded with organic-rich silty clays and peat layers, was analyzed by combining sedimentological, pollen, microanthracological and pedological data with radiocarbon dating (AMS inline-formula14C) in an innovative multidisciplinary approach for this area. Original data acquired during the field campaign were also correlated with other specific paleoclimatic proxies available in the literature for the northern Apennines area. We discover that the increase in extreme paleoflooding, associated with coarse-grained deposits similar to the ones observed recently, correlates well with the warm phases of the Holocene Thermal Maximum and with the ongoing warming trend observed that started at the beginning of the last century.

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Segadelli, Stefano / Grazzini, Federico / Rossi, Veronica / et al: Changes in high-intensity precipitation on the northern Apennines (Italy) as revealed by multidisciplinary data over the last 9000 years. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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