With global warming and sea level rise, many coastal systems will experience increased levels of inundation and storm flooding, especially along sandy lowland coastal areas, such as the Northern Adriatic coast (Italy). Understanding how extreme events may directly affect groundwater hydrology in shallow unconfined coastal aquifers is important to assess coastal vulnerability and quantify freshwater resources. This study investigates shallow coastal aquifer response to storm events. The transitory and permanent effects of storm waves are evaluated through the real time monitoring of groundwater and soil parameters, in order to characterize both the saturated and unsaturated portions of the coastal aquifer of Ravenna and Ferrara (southern Po Delta, Italy). Results highlight a general increase in hydraulic head and soil moisture, along with a decrease in groundwater salinity and pore water salinity due to rainfall infiltration during the 2 days storm event. The only exceptions are represented by the observation wells in proximity to the coastline (within 100 m), which recorded a temporary increase in soil and water salinity caused by the exceptional high waves, which persist on top of the dune crest during the storm event. This generates a saline plume that infiltrates through the vadose zone down to the saturated portion of the aquifer causing a temporary disappearance of the freshwater lens generally present, although limited in size, below the coastal dunes. Despite the high hydraulic conductivity, the aquifer system does not quickly recover the pre-storm equilibrium and the storm effects are evident in groundwater and soil parameters after 10 days past the storm overwash recess.
Coastal aquifer response to extreme storm events in Emilia-Romagna, Italy / Giambastiani, Beatrice M. S.; Colombani, Nicolò; Greggio, Nicolas; Antonellini, Marco; Mastrocicco, Micòl. - In: HYDROLOGICAL PROCESSES. - ISSN 0885-6087. - ELETTRONICO. - 31:8(2017), pp. 1613-1621. [10.1002/hyp.11130]