Articles | Volume 12, issue 1
Research article
13 Jan 2012
Research article |  | 13 Jan 2012

The occurrence of floods and the role of climate variations from 1880 in Calabria (Southern Italy)

M. Polemio and O. Petrucci

Abstract. In this paper, we present a methodological approach based on a comparative analysis of floods that occurred in a wide region over a long period and the climatic data characterising the same period, focusing on the climate trend. The method simplifies the comparative analysis of several time series by defining some indexes (e.g. the monthly, bi-monthly, and ... m-monthly indexes of precipitation, temperature, wet days and precipitation intensity and the monthly flood number) that can be used to study phenomena such as floods that are characterised by spatial and temporal variability. The analysis was used to investigate the potential effect of climate variation on the damaging floods trend.

The approach was tested for the Calabria region (Italy) using historical flood and climatic data from 1880 to 2007. The results showed that the number of floods was correlated with the monthly indexes of precipitation, wet days, and daily precipitation intensity. The following trends were recognised: decreasing precipitation and wet days, almost constant precipitation intensity, increasing temperature, and linearly increasing floods. A second-order polynomial trend analysis showed a slight decrease in floods since the seventies, which might be explained by the favourable climatic conditions during the period and/or the effect of increasing awareness of flood vulnerability.