Hydrology of the Po River: looking for changing patterns in river discharge
Abstract. Scientists and public administrators are devoting increasing attention to the Po River, in Italy, in view of concerns related to the impact of increasing urbanisation and exploitation of water resources. A better understanding of the hydrological regime of the river is necessary to improve water resources management and flood protection. In particular, the analysis of the effects of hydrological and climatic change is crucial for planning sustainable development and economic growth. An extremely interesting issue is to inspect to what extent river flows can be naturally affected by the occurrence of long periods of water abundance or scarcity, which can be erroneously interpreted as irreversible changes due to human impact. In fact, drought and flood periods alternatively occurred in the recent past in the form of long-term fluctuations. This paper presents advanced graphical and analytical methods to gain a better understanding of the temporal distribution of the Po River discharge. In particular, we present an analysis of river flow variability and persistence properties, to gain a better understanding of natural patterns, and in particular long-term changes, which may affect the future flood risk and availability of water resources.