Title: Climate-scale modelling of suspended sediment load in an Alpine catchment debris flow (Rio Cordon-northeastern Italy)
Citation: GEOMORPHOLOGY vol. 309 p. 20-28
Publication Year: 2018
JRC N°: JRC111147
ISSN: 0169-555X (online)
URI: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169555X18300849
DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.02.026
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Pulsing storms and prolonged rainfall can drive hydrological damaging events in mountain regions with soil erosion and debris-flow in river catchments. The paper presents a parsimonious model for estimating the climate forcing on sediment loads in an Alpine catchment (Rio Cordon, northeastern Italian Alps). Hydro-climatic forcing was interpreted by the novel CliSMSSL (Climate-Scale Modelling of Suspended Sediment Load) model to estimate annual sediment loads. We used annual data on suspended-solid loads monitored at an experimental station from 1987 to 2001, and monthly precipitation data. The quality of sediment load data was critically examined, and one outlying year was identified and removed from further analyses. This outlier revealed that our model underestimates exceptionally high sediment loads in years characterized by a severe flood event. For all other years, the CliSMSSL performed well, with a determination coefficient (R2) equal to 0.67 and a mean absolute error (MAE) of 129 Mg yr-1. The calibrated model for the period 1986-2010 was used to reconstruct sediment loads in the river catchment for historical times when detailed precipitation records are not available. For the period 1810-2010, the model results indicate that the past centuries have been characterized by large inter-annual to inter-decadal fluctuations in the conditions affecting sediment loads. This paper argues that climate-induced erosion processes in Alpine areas and their impact on environment should be given more attention in discussions about climate-driven strategies. Future work should focus on delineating the extents of these findings (e.g. at other catchments of the European Alpine belt) as well as investigating the dynamics for the formation of sediment loads.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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