1400 years of extreme precipitation patterns over the Mediterranean French Alps and possible forcing mechanisms

Abstract : Investigation of Lake Allos sediments revealed ~ 160 graded layers, interpreted as flood deposits, over the last 1400 yr. Comparisons with records of historic floods support the interpretation of flood deposits and suggest that most recorded flood events are the result of intense meso-scale precipitation events. As there is no evidence for any major changes in erosion processes in the catchment since the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), we interpret the Allos record in terms of repeated intense precipitation events over the last millennium, with a low flood frequency during the MWP and more frequent and more intense events during the Little Ice Age. This interpretation is consistent with the pattern of increasingly humid conditions in the northwestern Mediterranean region. This long-term trend is superimposed on high frequency oscillations that correlate with solar activity and autumnal North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Finally, a comparison of flood records across the northwestern Mediterranean region showed that intense precipitation events in Allos (east of the Rhône Valley) were out of phase with events in the Cévennes (west of the Rhône) but in phase with events in eastern Spain. Supported by meteorological analyses, this suggests an oscillation in atmospheric circulation patterns over the northwestern Mediterranean.
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Bruno Wilhelm, Fabien Arnaud, Pierre Sabatier, Christian Crouzet, Elodie Brisset, et al.. 1400 years of extreme precipitation patterns over the Mediterranean French Alps and possible forcing mechanisms. Quaternary Research, Elsevier, 2012, 78, p.1-12. ⟨10.1016/j.yqres.2012.03.003⟩. ⟨halsde-00719973⟩

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