Title: Current European flood-rich period exceptional compared with past 500 years
Authors: Blöschl, Günter 
Kiss, Andrea 
Viglione, Alberto  
Barriendos, Mariano  
Böhm, Oliver 
Brázdil, Rudolf 
Coeur, Denis 
Demarée, Gaston 
Llasat, Maria Carmen  
Macdonald, Neil 
Retsö, Dag 
Roald, Lars 
Schmocker-Fackel, Petra 
Amorim, Inês  
Bělínová, Monika  
Benito, Gerardo 
Bertolin, Chiara 
Camuffo, Dario 
Cornel, Daniel  
Doktor, Radosław  
Elleder, Líbor 
Enzi, Silvia 
Garcia, João Carlos 
Glaser, Rüdiger 
Hall, Julia 
Haslinger, Klaus  
Hofstätter, Michael 
Komma, Jürgen 
Limanówka, Danuta  
Lun, David 
Panin, Andrei 
Parajka, Juraj 
Matijević, Hrvoje  
Sánchez Rodrigo, Fernando  
Rohr, Christian 
Schönbein, Johannes 
Schulte, Lothar 
Silva, Luís Pedro 
Toonen, Willem  
Valent, Peter 
Waser, Jürgen  
Wetter, Oliver 
Category: Original Research Article
Issue Date: 23-Jul-2020
Blöschl, G., Kiss, A., Viglione, A., Barriendos, M., Böhm, O., Brázdil, R., Coeur, D., Demarée, G., Llasat, M. C., Macdonald, N., Retsö, D., Roald, L., Schmocker-Fackel, P., Amorim, I., Bělínová, M., Benito, G., Bertolin, C., Camuffo, D., Cornel, D., … Wetter, O. (2020). Current European flood-rich period exceptional compared with past 500 years. Nature, 583(7817), 560–566. https://doi.org/10.34726/1790
Journal: Nature 
ISSN: 0028-0836
There are concerns that recent climate change is altering the frequency and magnitude of river floods in an unprecedented way1. Historical studies have identified flood-rich periods in the past half millennium in various regions of Europe2. However, because of the low temporal resolution of existing datasets and the relatively low number of series, it has remained unclear whether Europe is currently in a flood-rich period from a long-term perspective. Here we analyse how recent decades compare with the flood history of Europe, using a new database composed of more than 100 high-resolution (sub-annual) historical flood series based on documentary evidence covering all major regions of Europe. We show that the past three decades were among the most flood-rich periods in Europe in the past 500 years, and that this period differs from other flood-rich periods in terms of its extent, air temperatures and flood seasonality. We identified nine flood-rich periods and associated regions. Among the periods richest in floods are 1560-1580 (western and central Europe), 1760-1800 (most of Europe), 1840-1870 (western and southern Europe) and 1990-2016 (western and central Europe). In most parts of Europe, previous flood-rich periods occurred during cooler-than-usual phases, but the current flood-rich period has been much warmer. Flood seasonality is also more pronounced in the recent period. For example, during previous flood and interflood periods, 41 per cent and 42 per cent of central European floods occurred in summer, respectively, compared with 55 per cent of floods in the recent period. The exceptional nature of the present-day flood-rich period calls for process-based tools for flood-risk assessment that capture the physical mechanisms involved, and management strategies that can incorporate the recent changes in risk.
Keywords: Flood-rich periods; historical flood data; flood changes
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2478-3
DOI: 10.34726/1790
Organisation: E222-02 - Forschungsbereich Ingenieurhydrologie 
License: In Copyright 1.0
Publication Type: Article
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