Frequent floods in the European Alps coincide with cooler periods of the past 2500 years

Glur, Lukas; Wirth, Stefanie B.; Büntgen, Ulf; Gilli, Adrian; Haug, Gerald H.; Schär, Christoph; Beer, Jürg; Anselmetti, Flavio (2013). Frequent floods in the European Alps coincide with cooler periods of the past 2500 years. Scientific Reports, 3(1), p. 2770. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/srep02770

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Severe floods triggered by intense precipitation are among the most destructive natural hazards in Alpine environments, frequently causing large financial and societal damage. Potential enhanced flood occurrence due to global climate change would thus increase threat to settlements, infrastructure, and human lives in the affected regions. Yet, projections of intense precipitation exhibit major uncertainties and robust reconstructions of Alpine floods are limited to the instrumental and historical period. Here we present a 2500-year long flood reconstruction for the European Alps, based on dated sedimentary flood deposits from ten lakes in Switzerland. We show that periods with high flood frequency coincide with cool summer temperatures. This wet-cold synchronism suggests enhanced flood occurrence to be triggered by latitudinal shifts of Atlantic and Mediterranean storm tracks. This paleoclimatic perspective reveals natural analogues for varying climate conditions, and thus can contribute to a better understanding and improved projections of weather extremes under climate change.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Quaternary Geology
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Glur, Lukas; Büntgen, Ulf and Anselmetti, Flavio

Subjects:

900 History > 910 Geography & travel
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology

ISSN:

2045-2322

Publisher:

Nature Publishing Group

Language:

English

Submitter:

Flavio Anselmetti

Date Deposited:

08 Aug 2014 08:39

Last Modified:

30 Apr 2017 01:54

Publisher DOI:

10.1038/srep02770

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Limnology, Palaeoclimate, Climate change, Environmental sciences

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.45620

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/45620

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