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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2012

Bruno Wilhelm*
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université de Savoie, CNRS, Pôle Montagne, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac, France
Fabien Arnaud
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université de Savoie, CNRS, Pôle Montagne, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac, France
Pierre Sabatier
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université de Savoie, CNRS, Pôle Montagne, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac, France
Christian Crouzet
Affiliation:
ISTerre, Université de Savoie, CNRS, bâtiment Belledonne, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac, France
Elodie Brisset
Affiliation:
IMBE, Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, Europole de l'Arbois, BP 80 13545 Aix-en-Provence cedex 04, France CEREGE, Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, IRD, College de France, Technopole de l'Arbois, BP 80, 13545 Aix en Provence, France
Eric Chaumillon
Affiliation:
LIENSs, Université de La Rochelle, CNRS, Institut du Littoral et de l'Environnement, 2 rue Olympe de Gouges, 17000 La Rochelle, France
Jean-Robert Disnar
Affiliation:
ISTO, Université d'Orléans, CNRS, Campus Géosciences, bâtiment ISTE, 1A rue de la Férolerie, 45071 Orleans cedex 2, France
Frederic Guiter
Affiliation:
IMBE, Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, Europole de l'Arbois, BP 80 13545 Aix-en-Provence cedex 04, France
Emmanuel Malet
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université de Savoie, CNRS, Pôle Montagne, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac, France
Jean-Louis Reyss
Affiliation:
LSCE, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin CEA-CNRS, avenue de la terrasse, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette cedex, France
Kazuyo Tachikawa
Affiliation:
CEREGE, Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, IRD, College de France, Technopole de l'Arbois, BP 80, 13545 Aix en Provence, France
Edouard Bard
Affiliation:
CEREGE, Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, IRD, College de France, Technopole de l'Arbois, BP 80, 13545 Aix en Provence, France
Jean-Jacques Delannoy
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université de Savoie, CNRS, Pôle Montagne, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac, France
*
Corresponding author. Fax: + 33 4 79 75 81 71. Email Address:bruno.wilhelm@univ-savoie.fr

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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Articles
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University of Washington

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