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Coupled decadal variability of the North Atlantic Oscillation, regional rainfall and spring discharges in the Campania region (Southern Italy)

DOI: 10.5194/hessd-8-11233-2011

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Climate change is one of the issues most debated by the scientific community with a special focus to the combined effects of anthropogenic modifications of the atmosphere and the natural climatic cycles. Various scenarios have been formulated in order to forecast the global atmospheric circulation and consequently the variability of the global distribution of air temperature and rainfall. The effects of climate change have been analysed with respect to the risks of desertification, droughts and floods, remaining mainly limited to the atmospheric and surface components of the hydrologic cycle. Consequently the impact of the climate change on the recharge of regional aquifers and on the groundwater circulation is still a challenging topic especially in those areas whose aqueduct systems depend basically on springs or wells, such as the Campania region (Southern Italy). In order to analyse the long-term climatic variability and its influence on groundwater circulation, we analysed decadal patterns of precipitation, air temperature and spring discharges in the Campania region (Southern Italy), coupled with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The time series of precipitation and air temperature were gathered over 90 yr, in the period from 1921 to 2010, choosing 18 rain gauges and 9 air temperature stations among those with the most continuous functioning as well as arranged in a homogeneous spatial distribution. Moreover, for the same period, we gathered the time series of the winter NAO index (December to March mean) and of the discharges of the Sanità spring, belonging to an extended carbonate aquifer (Cervialto Mount) located in the central-eastern area of the Campania region, as well as of two other shorter time series of spring discharges. The hydrogeological features of this aquifer, its relevance due to the feeding of an important regional aqueduct system, as well as the unique availability of a long-lasting time series of spring discharges, allowed us to consider it as an ideal test site, representative of the other carbonate aquifers in the Campania region. The time series of regional normalised indexes of mean annual precipitation, mean annual air temperature and mean annual effective precipitation, as well as the time series of the normalised annual discharge index were calculated. Different methods were applied to analyse the time series: long-term trend analysis, through smoothing numerical techniques, cross-correlation and Fourier analysis. The investigation of the normalised indexes has highlighted long-term complex periodicities, strongly c


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