Effects of anthropogenic land-subsidence on inundation dynamics: the case study of Ravenna, Italy
- School of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering, DICAM, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Abstract. Can differential land-subsidence significantly alter river flooding dynamics, and thus flood risk in flood prone areas? Many studies show how the lowering of the coastal areas is closely related to an increase in the flood-hazard due to more important tidal flooding and see level rise. The literature on the relationship between differential land-subsidence and possible alterations to riverine flood-hazard of inland areas is still sparse, although several geographical areas characterized by significant land-subsidence rates during the last 50 years experienced intensification in both inundation magnitude and frequency. We investigate the possible impact of a significant differential ground lowering on flood hazard over a 77 km2 area around the city of Ravenna, in Italy. The rate of land-subsidence in the study area, naturally in the order of a few mm year−1, dramatically increased up to 110 mm year−1 after World War II, primarily due to groundwater pumping and gas production platforms. The result was a cumulative drop that locally exceeds 1.5 m. Using a recent digital elevation model (res. 5 m) and literature data on land-subsidence, we constructed a ground elevation model over the study area in 1897 and we characterized either the current and the historical DEM with or without road embankments and land-reclamation channels in their current configuration. We then considered these four different topographic models and a two-dimensional hydrodynamic model to simulate and compare the inundation dynamics associated with a levee failure scenario along embankment system of the river Montone, which flows eastward in the southern portion of the study area. For each topographic model, we quantified the flood hazard in terms of maximum water depth (h) and we compared the actual effects on flood-hazard dynamics of differential land-subsidence relative to those associated with other man-made topographic alterations, which resulted to be much more significant.