To achieve a reliable analysis of the impacts induced in mountain basins by large and infrequent floods, all their main components, from the spatial-temporal distribution of meteorological agents to the hydrological, geomorphic and sedimentological response should be considered. Comprehensive study of the hydro-geomorphic responses is extremely valuable to increase the awareness of large floods, especially, in highly populated mountain areas. Such type of investigation requires a solid and wide dataset, which is why only few studies had the chance to describe the response in such a holistic way. This work comprehensively analyzed the high magnitude/low frequency Vaia event, a severe storm that affected northeastern Italy in October 2018 and thus the Rio Cordon study basin. The 80 h precipitation registered in the basin showed a total rainfall equal to 29.8% of the mean annual precipitation. The temporal distribution of rainfall presented two phases, i.e., a first characterized by moderate but persistent precipitation and a second more intense, exhibiting recurrence intervals over 50 years. A combination of indirect methods permitted the reconstruction of the hydraulic forcing acted in the Rio Cordon. Despite the implicit uncertainty, these methods clearly highlighted the high magnitude expressed by October 2018 flood, which generated a unit peak discharge equal to 3.3 m3 s−1 km−2 and a peak of unit stream power of 3865 W m−2, i.e., the highest hydraulic forcing conditions ever observed in 34 years. In terms of geomorphic changes, the use of pre- and post-event LiDAR data stressed out a moderate response of the hillslopes, where the (re)activation of the sediment sources was limited. Only few of these acted as sediment supplier to the main channel. The channel network instead, exhibited an evident response, with the Rio Cordon severely altered by wide lateral widening, deep streambed incision and armouring removal. The hydraulic and geomorphic forcing generated by October 2018 flood caused extensive streambed remobilization and boulder mobility that, in turn, induced the transport of a massive sediment volume. In this sense, the match between bedload observed and bedload predicted suggested the outstanding hydraulic forcing occurred and the quasi-unlimited supply conditions acted during the flood. The long-lasting monitoring program maintained in the Rio Cordon basin provided the rare opportunity to compare two high magnitude/low frequency floods and their induced effects. The September 1994 and October 2018 events were caused by different rainfall conditions, which resulted in different hydrological- and, especially, geomorphic- and sedimentological-responses. Particularly, the October 2018 flood induced an unprecedented alteration on the fluvial system, the effects of which could persist over the long-term.

Hydrological, geomorphic and sedimentological responses of an alpine basin to a severe weather event (Vaia storm)

Rainato Riccardo
;
Lorenzo Martini;Giacomo Pellegrini;Lorenzo Picco
2021

Abstract

To achieve a reliable analysis of the impacts induced in mountain basins by large and infrequent floods, all their main components, from the spatial-temporal distribution of meteorological agents to the hydrological, geomorphic and sedimentological response should be considered. Comprehensive study of the hydro-geomorphic responses is extremely valuable to increase the awareness of large floods, especially, in highly populated mountain areas. Such type of investigation requires a solid and wide dataset, which is why only few studies had the chance to describe the response in such a holistic way. This work comprehensively analyzed the high magnitude/low frequency Vaia event, a severe storm that affected northeastern Italy in October 2018 and thus the Rio Cordon study basin. The 80 h precipitation registered in the basin showed a total rainfall equal to 29.8% of the mean annual precipitation. The temporal distribution of rainfall presented two phases, i.e., a first characterized by moderate but persistent precipitation and a second more intense, exhibiting recurrence intervals over 50 years. A combination of indirect methods permitted the reconstruction of the hydraulic forcing acted in the Rio Cordon. Despite the implicit uncertainty, these methods clearly highlighted the high magnitude expressed by October 2018 flood, which generated a unit peak discharge equal to 3.3 m3 s−1 km−2 and a peak of unit stream power of 3865 W m−2, i.e., the highest hydraulic forcing conditions ever observed in 34 years. In terms of geomorphic changes, the use of pre- and post-event LiDAR data stressed out a moderate response of the hillslopes, where the (re)activation of the sediment sources was limited. Only few of these acted as sediment supplier to the main channel. The channel network instead, exhibited an evident response, with the Rio Cordon severely altered by wide lateral widening, deep streambed incision and armouring removal. The hydraulic and geomorphic forcing generated by October 2018 flood caused extensive streambed remobilization and boulder mobility that, in turn, induced the transport of a massive sediment volume. In this sense, the match between bedload observed and bedload predicted suggested the outstanding hydraulic forcing occurred and the quasi-unlimited supply conditions acted during the flood. The long-lasting monitoring program maintained in the Rio Cordon basin provided the rare opportunity to compare two high magnitude/low frequency floods and their induced effects. The September 1994 and October 2018 events were caused by different rainfall conditions, which resulted in different hydrological- and, especially, geomorphic- and sedimentological-responses. Particularly, the October 2018 flood induced an unprecedented alteration on the fluvial system, the effects of which could persist over the long-term.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.
Pubblicazioni consigliate

Caricamento pubblicazioni consigliate

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3398148
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 4
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact