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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 1
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 105–118, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-9-105-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Extreme events induced by weather and climate change: evaluation,...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 105–118, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-9-105-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  12 Feb 2009

12 Feb 2009

The role of meteorological and climatic conditions in the occurrence of damaging hydro-geologic events in Southern Italy

O. Petrucci1 and M. Polemio2 O. Petrucci and M. Polemio
  • 1CNR-IRPI, Dept. of Cosenza, Italy
  • 2CNR-IRPI, Dept. of Bari, Via Amendola 122/i, 70124 Bari, Italy

Abstract. Damaging Hydro-geologic Events (DHEs), defined as landslides and floods caused by heavy or prolonged rainfall, represent an important source of economic damages. We propose an approach to classify DHEs, considering 1) meteorological antecedent conditions, 2) the season during which the event occurs, 3) the return period of maximum daily rainfall triggering the event, 4) geographic sectors hit, 5) types of triggered damaging phenomena; and 6) induced damage.

We applied this approach to a case study of time series of DHEs that occurred over 85 years in Calabria (southern Italy). We analysed 13 DHEs that, between 1921 and 2005, triggered landslides, floods and secondary floods, causing severe damage and tens of causalities all over the Calabria region. During the analysed events, 64% of Calabria's municipalities suffered many types of damage. The most relevant rain phenomena and the largest damages were caused by the persistent effects of perturbations on Calabria, which were preceded by the appearance of low-pressure fields in two different areas located westwards.

We sorted the events into three types based on geographic damage distribution and types of triggered phenomena and induced damage. The first two types are characterised by similar severity levels, while the third shows the highest severity, in terms of both damage and victims. Independent of the type of event, the S-SE and E sectors of the region are the most frequently affected by DHEs. As regards human life, floods are the most dangerous type of phenomenon, causing the highest number of fatalities.

Our analysis indicates a decreasing frequency of DHEs during the study period, and an absence of the most severe type for more than 50 years. The number of victims is also decreasing over time.

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