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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Human Factors, Extreme Events and Floods in the Lower Po Plain (Northern Italy) in the 16th Century

Emanuela Guidoboni

Environment and History 4(1998): 279-308

Researches on climatic variations in the 16th century have stressed the exceptionality of extreme events, such as large and frequent floods, which are used as indicators of increased rainfall. The case of the lower Po basin, where lack of instrumental data renders the concept of exceptionality complex and relative, shows that this is not necessarily valid. There, various human factors determined a high environmental vulnerability. Since the lower Po Plain was a 'man-made' environment, past extreme events must be evaluated in strict relation with the territory's character. Thus the increase in floods constitutes a 'weak' indicator for an increase in rainfall.

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