Hydrometeorological analysis of the December 2008 flood in Rome

Gabriele Villarini, James A. Smith, Francesco Napolitano, Mary L. Baeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Rome has been plagued by flooding since its foundation, and, in December 2008, the largest flood event over the past 20 years caused a fatality and more than €150 million in economic damage. Meteorological conditions associated with the December 2008 flooding are shown to be typical of flooding in the Tiber. The long record of discharge measurements of the Tiber River at the Ripetta station in downtown Rome was used to examine flood frequency for the Tiber, including assessment of the return interval of the December 2008 flood. Particular attention is given to examination of the stationarity assumption for flood peaks through change-point and trend analyses, quantile regression, and statistical modelling of the flood-peak distribution. Once anthropogenic changes linked to reservoir regulation of the Tiber River have been accounted for, the stationarity assumption holds and can be used for flood frequency analysis. We highlight the difficulties in detecting departures from the stationarity assumption due to climate change. In the current regime, the December 2008 flood event has a return period of the order of 10-20 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1150-1165
Number of pages16
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


  • Flooding
  • Hydrometeorology
  • Rome
  • Stationarity
  • Statistical modelling


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