Impact of climate change on natural hazard

PizBoe_2014_2017The research activity is focused on the assessment of the impact of climate changing on natural hazards such as floods, landslides and drought. The general conclusion drawn from multiple studies dealing with climate change analysis is that hydrological cycle is likely to accelerate in the warmer climate. However, the impact of climate changing on extreme events occurrence and magnitude is still affected by large uncertainties. The main question is: “How flood, landslide and drought risk will change in the future?”

In this research area, we focus on:

  • The development of robust procedures for downscaling climate model predictions and the coupling with hydrological and geo-hydrological modelling.
  • The assessment of trends in extreme events occurrence obtained from past and current observations, from in situ and remote sensing data, and their comparison with climate predictions.
  • The assessment of uncertainties in climatic and hydrological projections.

The research is oriented to use climate projections obtained by GCMs for predicting the future variability of flood, landslide and drought events. However, the spatial and temporal scales of GCM projections are much larger than the ones needed in impact studies. Therefore, the science questions are: 1) How to reconcile climate projection and impact studies? 2) How to determine the impact of climate changing on extreme events? 3) What is the uncertainty of climate projections? 4) What is the trend of extreme events in the current climate? How does it change in space and time?

We developed hydrological and geo-hydrological modelling coupled with a procedure for spatial-temporal downscaling of projections from General Circulation Models (GCMs) in order to assess the impact of climate changing on the occurrence and the magnitude of extreme events.

The research has sparked interest in the scientific community, and particularly among stakeholders as demonstrated by the related national and international projects. In recent years we obtained the EU-funded project ABOT on development of prevention activities to halt desertification in Europe, the Umbria Region project SECLI for the assessment of drought risk in a changing climate, and DIBA, funded by CNR, addressing the collection of high-quality hydrological observations in Apennine areas.

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