The FluVAlps Research Group (Fluvial, Climate and Land Use Interactions Variability in Alpine Environments), constituted of researchers of the University of Barcelona (Spain), University of Berne (Switzerland), the Catalan Meteorology Survey (Spain), Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera (CSIC, Spain), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Archaeological Survey Canton Berne, the Rovira i Virgili University (Tarragona), focuses on the better understanding of the impact of external forcing as climate and land uses on long-term aggradation and flooding processes in hydrographic systems.
Figure 1: Fluvial landforms are a very common feature in mountain regions and are often suitable for paleoenvironmental studies. Left lateral Holocene alluvial fan joining the outwash plain of the Tasman Glacier (Southern Alps, New Zealand, 08.08.2007, © by L. Schulte)
The FluVAlps-plus Project (Sensitivity of alpine rivers to Global Change: High-resolution palaeoenvironmental records and modelling of extreme flood events in the Swiss Alps) aims to generate paleoenvironmental time series from a multiproxy approach and to contribute to the understanding of the effect of Global Change on fluvial systems and their response. The studies are mainly focused on the valley bottom of the Lütschine, Hasli, Lombach and Sahner valley, which are alpine sediment sinks in the Western Alps and is located close to the climate divide between cold polar and north atlantic air and humid Mediterranean air masses. Due to these geographic settings, the study area is particularly sensitive to changes in the atmospheric circulation and climatic extreme events and, furthermore, this region is known as a true "hot spot" of hydrological risk in the Alps.
Lothar Schulte, professor of geomorphology and paleoecology, is the principal investigator of the Fluvalps Project. He coordinates the activities of the FluVAlps Research Group. The University of Barcelona hosts the project coordination.
Phone: +34 93 403 78 87
The project focuses mainly on the analysis of fluvial sedimentary archives, palynological records, documentary sources and instrumental data using different time scales and resolutions to cover the last 4000 years. To obtain high-resolution proxies, geocronological modells will be based on an extensive range of radiocarbon dating (AMS) and will also consider optically stimulated luminescence dating (OSL). From various statistical techniques applied to the time series of intra-decadal resolution and its correlation with paleoclimatic reference records (e.g. 14C, 18O, 10Be, NAOi, sulfate excess, etc.), the relevance of the various external driving forces (orbital, solar, volcanic, changes in land cover) will be examined with regard to the variability of fluvial processes, flood frequency and magnitude. The high resolution time series will also allow the generation of proxies of human activity in recent millennia. These off-site studies have a special significance to improve chronological accuracy of land uses such as prehistoric mining, which is still insufficiently dated in the Alps.
The reciprocal calibration of long sedimentary time series, historical sources and instrumental data enable the assessment of the recent catastrophic flood events (e.g. 22.-23.08.2005) and the calculation of historical flood discharges. The understanding of aggradation processes, behavior of floods and related climatic patterns are key issues to model future scenarios and to provide valid information to authorities flood risks mitigation.
Integrated Graduate and Master course teaching
Geography students from the University of Barcelona visited during a fieldtrip last April the Gegant Cave (Sitges, Spain) known as one of the few sites in Northeastern Spain with Neanderthal fossils. By the way alumni experienced minimum Sea Surface Temperatures and the curvature of the earth (background).
L. Schulte, J.C. Peña, R. Julià, F. Carvalho, J. Llorca, J. Losada, F. Burjachs, T. Schmidt, P. Rubio, H. Veit, 2014.
CLIMATE FORCING OF PALEOFLOODS IN THE SWISS ALPS
Schulte, L., Julià, R., Veit, H., Carvalho, F., 2009.
Do high resolution fan delta records provide a useful tool for hazard assessment in mountain regions?
Schulte, L., Veit, H., Burjachs, F., Julià, R., 2009.
Lütschine fan delta response to climate variability and land use in the Bernese Alps during the last 2400 years.
Schulte, L., Julià, R., Oliva, M., Burjachs, F., Veit, H., & Carvalho, F. 2008.
Sensitivity of Alpine fluvial environments in the Swiss Alps to climate forcing during the Late Holocene.