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New option to predict river flood threat may assist put together for disasters



Extreme flooding on the Ahr river in Germany in 2021

dpa image alliance / Alamy Inventory Picture

We might now be capable to higher predict which rivers are prone to excessive flooding, even when they haven’t prompted extreme floods earlier than.

Excessive flooding, such because the devastating 2021 floods in Germany that killed at the least 196 individuals, is tough to foretell, says Stefano Basso on the Norwegian Institute for Water Analysis in Oslo. Sometimes, researchers solely know a river is liable to excessive floods if this has occurred previously. “For this method to work, you have to wait for something bad to happen,” says Basso.

To search for different methods to foretell excessive flood threat, Basso and his colleagues analysed discharge and flooding knowledge from 101 rivers in Germany and the US going again at the least 30 years.

They cut up the floods into two teams: those who had been small in magnitude and anticipated for that river, and those who had been excessive. The second group consisted of floods that had been between 20 and 35 instances larger than a standard flood for a selected river.

The researchers studied the properties of the rivers that had skilled these excessive floods, together with elements equivalent to magnitude and frequency of rainfall and the way shortly water appeared to stream from the encompassing areas to the river.

From this evaluation, the researchers got here up with two parameters that appeared to clarify whether or not a river was more likely to trigger excessive flooding or not: how the world draining to the river (often known as the river basin) retains and releases water, and the stability between how a lot rain the river receives and the way a lot water evaporates from the area.

Basso and his colleagues then analysed knowledge going again at the least 10 years from 2519 rivers in Germany and the US, utilizing these two parameters to find out whether or not a river was more likely to trigger excessive flooding or not.

They recognized a number of rivers in Germany and the US that haven’t had excessive floods, however are regarded as prone to them. In Germany, they embody the Rems river in Baden-Württemberg and the Wörnitz and Vils rivers in Bavaria. Within the US, rivers prone to excessive flooding embody the Baron Fork of the Illinois river and the Cowpasture river in Virginia. The crew is at present utilizing its mannequin to foretell which rivers are prone to excessive flooding within the UK.

Having the ability to predict excessive floods is vital, says Basso, as a result of it’s these floods in city areas that officers are sometimes unprepared for and trigger essentially the most injury.

“Hydrologists have known for some time that the most catastrophic floods are generated by different physical processes than smaller ‘normal’ floods, but the beauty of this study is that, for the first time, it identifies the places that are more likely to experience these disasters,” says Paul Bates on the College of Bristol, UK.


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