Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 115, Issue 1–2, pp 259–279 | Cite as

Characteristics of the atmospheric circulation associated with cold-season heavy rainfall and flooding over a complex terrain region in Greece

  • G. A. EfstathiouEmail author
  • C. J. Lolis
  • N. M. Zoumakis
  • P. Kassomenos
  • D. Melas
Original Paper


Raingauge data from four meteorological stations in Chalkidiki peninsula (Greece) were used to identify the characteristics of the synoptic circulation patterns associated with cold-season heavy rainfall events and corresponding flooding over the area. Precipitation climatology over the complex topography of Chalkidiki is characterized by limited annual rainfall, but in the occurrence of heavy rainfall episodes daily accumulations are exceptionally high with increased precipitation rates, leading often to severe flooding. Fifty-five cases of high daily accumulations for the period of 1997 to 2010, mostly observed during December and October, were classified into eight clusters by applying S-Mode Factor Analysis and Cluster Analysis to the ERA-Interim grid point reanalysis data. The results revealed that, in most cases, intense rainfall and flooding is produced by synoptic scale disturbances that generate and sustain cyclonic activity over south Italy, the Ionian, and less frequently over the Aegean Sea. In particular, the atmospheric circulation patterns associated with heavy rainfall are characterized by the presence of a southeasterly–easterly low-level humid flow over Chalkidiki in conjunction with the potentially unstable lower troposphere influenced by mid-level cyclonic vorticity advection and enhanced low-level convergence over the complex terrain.


Heavy Rainfall Event Empirical Orthogonal Function Synoptic Pattern Vorticity Advection Southeasterly Flow 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research has been co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund—ESF) and Greek national funds through the Operational Program “Education and Lifelong Learning” of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF)—Research Funding Program: Heracleitus II. Investing in knowledge society through the European Social Fund. The authors would also like to thank Hellas-Gold Company for kindly providing the raingauge data used in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. A. Efstathiou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • C. J. Lolis
    • 1
  • N. M. Zoumakis
    • 2
  • P. Kassomenos
    • 1
  • D. Melas
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of Meteorology, Department of PhysicsUniversity of IoanninaIoanninaGreece
  2. 2.Environmental Process Laboratory, Atmospheric Physics GroupAlexander Technological Educational Institution of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  3. 3.Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics, Department of Applied and Environmental Physics, School of PhysicsAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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