We reconstruct the evolution of the Ofanto River delta from the 17th century to the present using historical maps (1600–1850), official IGM topographic maps (1850–1980) and recent aerial photographs (2015), and we compare long-term morphological changes with the evolution of the delta of the Volturno River during the same time period. The aim of this study is to define the role of climatic (flood frequency, synoptic pressure patterns) and anthropogenic factors (deforestation, anthropogenic sediment subtraction of river sediment) in the evolution of the Ofanto delta. We analysed the importance of each factor on the evolution of the delta and compared them with the simultaneous behaviour of the Volturno delta to highlight the role of large-scale synoptic pressure patterns. We found that the main driver of different delta evolution phases is weather-climatic condition, while anthropogenic factors interacted with the delta evolution in different ways but did not control the first-order evolution. In particular, analysing the data on recent floods, we found that the most favourable situations for both rivers are omega-blocking, deep low-pressure trough and strong meridional circulation (mode Ω) which create Mediterranean low-pressure systems. Instead, a zonal circulation (mode W) can only cause floods on Volturno. Because the evolution of a delta is driven by the frequency of floods, and because we found that the frequency of floods is guided by synoptic patterns, a relationship can be established between delta evolution and synoptic patterns in the past. Consequently, past phases of the contemporary progradation of the Ofanto and Volturno deltas suggest the increasing frequency of mode Ω, while phases of simultaneous progradation of the Volturno delta and stability and/or retreat of the Ofanto delta are indicative of the increasing frequency of mode W. The only exception occurred during the last evolutionary phase (60 years), when anthropogenic sediment subtraction was prevalent.

Evolution of the Ofanto River delta from the ‘Little Ice Age’ to modern times: Implications of large-scale synoptic patterns

De Santis, Vincenzo
;
Caldara, Massimo;Marsico, Antonella;Capolongo, Domenico;Pennetta, Luigi
2018-01-01

Abstract

We reconstruct the evolution of the Ofanto River delta from the 17th century to the present using historical maps (1600–1850), official IGM topographic maps (1850–1980) and recent aerial photographs (2015), and we compare long-term morphological changes with the evolution of the delta of the Volturno River during the same time period. The aim of this study is to define the role of climatic (flood frequency, synoptic pressure patterns) and anthropogenic factors (deforestation, anthropogenic sediment subtraction of river sediment) in the evolution of the Ofanto delta. We analysed the importance of each factor on the evolution of the delta and compared them with the simultaneous behaviour of the Volturno delta to highlight the role of large-scale synoptic pressure patterns. We found that the main driver of different delta evolution phases is weather-climatic condition, while anthropogenic factors interacted with the delta evolution in different ways but did not control the first-order evolution. In particular, analysing the data on recent floods, we found that the most favourable situations for both rivers are omega-blocking, deep low-pressure trough and strong meridional circulation (mode Ω) which create Mediterranean low-pressure systems. Instead, a zonal circulation (mode W) can only cause floods on Volturno. Because the evolution of a delta is driven by the frequency of floods, and because we found that the frequency of floods is guided by synoptic patterns, a relationship can be established between delta evolution and synoptic patterns in the past. Consequently, past phases of the contemporary progradation of the Ofanto and Volturno deltas suggest the increasing frequency of mode Ω, while phases of simultaneous progradation of the Volturno delta and stability and/or retreat of the Ofanto delta are indicative of the increasing frequency of mode W. The only exception occurred during the last evolutionary phase (60 years), when anthropogenic sediment subtraction was prevalent.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11586/221768
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