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This book is made up by the proceedings of the first EGS Plinius Conference on Mediterranean Storms, which was held in Maratea, Italy, October 14-16, 1999.

The sequence of the Plinius Conferences is a series of topical meetings which focus on specific aspects concerning the study of extremes of natural phenomena. They are organised among the system of EGS conferences and represent a forum for in-depth discussion amongst invited scientists of selected topics in the earth, planetary and solar sciences. The Plinius Conferences are part of the activities of the European Geophysical Society IWG on Natural Hazards and the  Mediterranean Storms meeting stimulated a top-level discussion about the meteorological forcing and the effects over land and sea of the extreme storms in the Mediterranean environment.

In the past symposia of the EGS IWG on Natural Hazards it became apparent that the best approach for the characterisation of natural extremes requires the interaction of many traditional disciplines, such as meteorology and hydrology, for example in case of the evaluation and prediction of extreme floods; and hydrology, geology and geotechnical engineering for the understanding of landslide hazard monitoring. The papers presented at the conference and included in this book provide a comprehensive overview of the many physical processes involved: they encompass the development of prediction and perception of large scale atmospheric phenomena, of extreme floods and of diffuse mass movements.

The Mediterranean environment provides a unique example of the coexistence of natural hazards, from rain and sea storms to floods, landslides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Large-scale weather forecasting models are challenged by the complexity of sea and land forms and the short sea fetches of the Mediterranean basin. Sophisticated nowcasting techniques and refined downscaling approaches are needed in order to link the typical morphology and evolution of the Mediterranean cyclones with advances hydrological schemes. Such interdisciplinary approaches have the potential to greatly improve rainfall and flood frequency analysis, particularly when special emphasis is given to the characterisation of extraordinary events by the support of the  meteorological interpretation.

Better knowledge of properties of the rainfall process at aggregated scales will also benefit the interpretation of the rainfall-induced landsliding processes. Landslides early warning will require in‑depth analysis of possible rainfall thresholds.

The conclusions and recommendations emerged at the meeting are the initial steps towards a better integration of many disciplines around the study and characterisation of the complex phenomena related to meteorological and hydrological extremes.

The organisation of the book simply reflects the structure of sessions throughout the meeting: the Mediterranean's unique meteorology and climatology are addressed in the first section (Morphology of Severe Rainfall Events in the Mediterranean Areas). The papers cover a wide variety of meteorological processes, observed from the synoptic scale to the microphysical cloud structure, with a broad overview of the features of storm morphology and with particular attention to the characteristics of cyclonic activity and of the spatial distribution of rainfall patterns. The first section provides the background for the following sections. In particular, it integrates well with Rainfall Forecasting and Uncertainty of Meteorological Predictions (Part 2), Hydrological and Hydrometeorological Modelling (Part 3), Analysis of Sea Storm Events (Part 5), and The role of Remote Sensing and Meteorological Radar for the Prediction  and Diagnosis (Part 6).  The section on Precipitation Thresholds and Landsliding (Part 4) presents interesting views about the links between climatology and rainfall characteristics critical to slope failure.

The editors wish to thank the authors for their active participation and for their contributions. Acknowledgement goes to the EGS Office and to the organising and financial supporters, in particular the Department of Environmental Engineering and Physics (DIFA) of the  University of Basilicata, the Center for Environmental Monitoring (CIMA) of the University of Genova, the National Research Council Institute for Advanced Methods in Environmental Analysis (IMAAA-CNR) in Tito and the Inter-University Center for Natural Hazards (CUGRI) of Universities of Salerno and Naples. Financial support for the publication of this volume was provided by the National Group for Hydro-Geologic Disaster Prevention (GNDCI) of the CNR.

All of the participants owe a debt of gratitude to the staff at the Villa del Mare Hotel (Acquafredda di Maratea, Italy) who provided the ideal environment for the realisation of such an international meeting.

Particular gratitude is expressed to the members of the Scientific and Organising Committees for their efforts devoted to the preparation of the workshop structure and sessions. The support of Simona Pozzati and Katja Gaenger, the untiring efforts of Carmen Gerardi, and the editorial assistance of Lucia Girolamo made possible a very successful organisation of the meeting and the publication of the Proceedings.


The editors