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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Flood Consequences of Land-Use Changes at a Ski Resort: Overcoming a Geomorphological Threshold (Portainé, Eastern Pyrenees, Iberian Peninsula)

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Department of Earth and Ocean Dynamics, Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Barcelona, c/ Martí i Franquès s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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RISKNAT Research Group, University of Barcelona, c/ Martí i Franquès s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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Geomodels Research Institute, University of Barcelona, c/ Martí i Franquès s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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Geological Hazards Division, Geological Survey of Spain & IMDEA-Water. c/ Ríos Rosas 23, 28003 Madrid, Spain
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Department of Natural Systems and Resources, Technical University of Madrid (UPM), 28040 Madrid, Spain
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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Division of Geotechnical Engineering and Geosciences, UPC BarcelonaTECH, c/ Jordi Girona 1–3 (D2), 08034 Barcelona, Spain
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Center of Applied Research in Hydrometeorology, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, BarcelonaTech, c/ Jordi Girona 1–3 (C4), 08034 Barcelona, Spain
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Centre d’Estudis de la Neu I la Muntanya d’Andorra/Snow and Mountain Research Center of Andorra, Av. Rocafort 21-23, Edifici Molí 3r pis, AD600 Sant Julià de Lòria, Andorra
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Group of the Geological Hazard Prevention Map of Catalonia, Cartographic and Geological Institute of Catalonia, Parc de Montjuïc S/N, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(2), 368; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020368
Received: 24 December 2019 / Revised: 17 January 2020 / Accepted: 25 January 2020 / Published: 29 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Assessments: Applications and Uncertainties)
The sensitive mountain catchment of Portainé (Eastern Pyrenees, Iberian Peninsula) has recently experienced a significant change in its torrential dynamics due to human disturbances. The emplacement of a ski resort at the headwaters led to the surpassing of a geomorphological threshold, with important consequences during flood events. Consequently, since 2008, channel dynamics have turned into sediment-laden, highly destructive torrential flows. In order to assess this phenomenon and o acquire a holistic understanding of the catchment’s behaviour, we carried out a field work-based multidisciplinary study. We considered the interaction of the various controlling factors, including bedrock geology, geomorphological evolution, derived soils and coluvial deposits, rainfall patterns, and the hydrological response of the catchment to flood events. Moreover, anthropogenic land-use changes, its consequential hydrogeomorphic effects and the role of vegetation were also taken into account. Robust sedimentological and geomorphological evidence of ancient dense debris flows show that the basin has shifted around this threshold, giving rise to two different behaviours or equilibrium conditions throughout its history: alternating periods of moderate, bedload-laden flows and periods of high sediment-laden debris flow dynamics. This shifting could have extended through the Holocene. Finally, we discuss the possible impact of climate and global change, as the projected effects suggest future soil and forest degradation; this, jointly with more intense rainfalls in these mountain environments, would exacerbate the future occurrence of dense sediment-laden flows at Portainé, but also in other nearby, similar basins. View Full-Text
Keywords: flood torrential dynamics; geomorphological threshold; land-use changes; ski resort; hydrological response; Pyrenees flood torrential dynamics; geomorphological threshold; land-use changes; ski resort; hydrological response; Pyrenees
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Furdada, G.; Victoriano, A.; Díez-Herrero, A.; Génova, M.; Guinau, M.; De las Heras, Á.; Palau, R.M.; Hürlimann, M.; Khazaradze, G.; Casas, J.M.; Margalef, A.; Pinyol, J.; González, M. Flood Consequences of Land-Use Changes at a Ski Resort: Overcoming a Geomorphological Threshold (Portainé, Eastern Pyrenees, Iberian Peninsula). Water 2020, 12, 368.

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