Flood disaster - Flutkatastrophe

A US Army helicopter flies over a floodplain in Pakistan (2010)

A flood disaster is the flood on the coast or that of a river that rises so high that the normal water levels are far exceeded and the beds and embankments can no longer hold back the water from the cultivated land , so that floods occur. The result is high property damage to buildings and infrastructure , crop damage and, in extreme cases, death. In the case of a flood with extremely high water levels, which occurs only very rarely, one speaks of a flood of the century .

Floods are divided into:

  • the storm surge , water masses pressed onto the coasts by strong winds, which lead to floods in the coastal area, and backwater floods on the lower reaches of the rivers. These events occur within a few hours and their total duration depends on the flow behavior
  • Precipitation-related floods caused by heavy rain events , the most basins also mostly from mountainous headwaters in which one or more flow system / s concern and congestion rainfall continue depart, for days in the lower reaches.

The tsunami (tidal wave) is not regarded as a flood in the sense of the term .

The reasons lie in the straightening and embankment of the rivers in order to make them navigable for the largest cargo ships possible, as well as in the drainage of entire stretches of land and thus the removal of the natural floodplain. Settlement right up to the dikes, even in areas that are repeatedly at risk of flooding, inevitably results in high losses in the event of flooding. Connections with global warming are suspected in both event types, in the former via the rising normal water level, in both via increased exceptional events in relation to wind and precipitation as consequences of global warming .

Historic flood disasters in Europe


The list of storm surges in the North Sea shows catastrophic floods in the North Sea .

Flood disasters on the Baltic Sea are described in more detail under Baltic Sea Storm Floods.

Flood disasters are common in the following rivers:
Danube , Elbe , Oder , Rhine , Moselle and Aare





  • 2005: (August) In Central Switzerland , Graubünden and Bern as well as in many other parts of Switzerland, villages are flooded by dam breaks or overflowing lakes or rivers. Several streets and train tracks are no longer passable. Individual villages (e.g. Engelberg ) are cut off from the outside world and can only be reached by helicopter (see Alpine flood 2005 ).

Historical flood disasters in other countries

Prehistoric flood disasters

  • About 7,600 years ago, after the end of the last glacial period , the water level in the Mediterranean rose so much that the depression of the Bosporus was flooded by about 100 m. After that, a huge waterfall could have poured into the Black Sea , which was a freshwater lake during the cold period. The water incursion left a ravine wash along the coastline that has survived to this day. [5] This theory is not generally accepted; numerous research results contradict it. [6] [7] [8] [9]
  • About 10,200 to 9400 years ago, when the glacial lake Agassiz melted, a powerful flood occurred several times in the Minnesota area . [10]
  • The largest known flood to date occurred around 14,000 years ago due to the melting of ice reservoirs in the Altai , Chuja and Kuray Basins. [12]
  • According to a theory by Andrey Tchepalyga, around 16,000 years ago, the Caspian Sea was swiftly inundated by river water from melting Scandinavian glaciers and merged with what was then the Black Sea . [13]
  • About 425,000 and 225,000 years ago, but also after the last glacial period, large water breakthroughs occurred in the area of ​​the then isthmus between Dover and Calais, which led to the widening and deepening of the current dimensions of the English Channel . [14] The then most water-rich European river system consisting of the Rhine , Seine and Thames was replaced by an arm of the sea. [15]
  • About 5.33 million years ago, the then dry Mediterranean basin was filled by water from the Atlantic on the Strait of Gibraltar . Presumably, at least in part, this flooding was not catastrophic. The resulting moat was about 200 km long and up to 11 km wide and let about 100 million cubic meters of water flow in per second. The maximum water level in the Mediterranean rose by 10 m per day, and within two years the water levels had equalized. [16] [17]

See also


Wiktionary: flood disaster - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Karl Heinz Burmeister: The "second deluge". The Rhine and Lake Constance floods of 1566 , in: Writings of the Association for the History of Lake Constance and its Surroundings , 124th year 2006, pp. 111-137 ( digitized version )
  2. a b Summary of the ArkStorm scenario of the US Geological Survey from: Keith Porter, Anne Wein, Charles Alpers, Allan Baez, Patrick Barnard, James Carter, Alessandra Corsi, James Costner, Dale Cox, Tapash Das, Michael Dettinger, James Done, Charles Eadie, Marcia Eymann, Justin Ferris, Prasad Gunturi, Mimi Hughes, Robert Jarrett, Laurie Johnson, Hanh Dam Le-Griffin, David Mitchell, Suzette Morman, Paul Neiman, Anna Olsen, Suzanne Perry, Geoffrey Plumlee, Martin Ralph, David Reynolds , Adam Rose, Kathleen Schaefer, Julie Serakos, William Siembieda, Jonathan Stock, David Strong, Ian Sue Wing, Alex Tang, Pete Thomas, Ken Topping, directed by Chris Wills and Lucile Jones; Project manager Dale Cox (201)Overview of the ARkStorm scenario: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1312, 183 Seiten zuzüglich Anhängen
  3. a b c Floods in Benin. In: http://www.dw-world.de/ . Deutsche Welle, October 19, 2010, accessed October 25, 2010 .
  4. Benin: 680,000 affected by heavy rainfall. (No longer available online.) In: http://www.unhcr.de/ . UNHCR, October 22, 2010, formerly in the original ; Retrieved October 25, 2010 . ( Page no longer available , search in web archives )@1@2Vorlage:Toter Link/www.unhcr.de Info: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
  5. Wilder Planet: The Flood ( Memento from September 21, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) April 22, 2007 on ZDF
  6. Ali Aksu et al. , GSA Today Vol. 12, pp. 4–10, referenced in Bild der Wissenschaft, April 26, 2002 ( Memento from February 11, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Valentina Yanko-Hombach: The Black Sea flood question: Changes in coastline, climate and human settlement. Springer, Dordrecht 2007.
  8. Valentina Yanko-Hombach: Current status of the Early Holocene Flood hypothesis in the Black Sea, IGC 2008
  9. HPQ-02 Black Sea?Mediterranean Corridor during last 30 ky: Sea level change and human adaptation, Referenzen zum 33. International Geological Congress Oslo 2008
  10. Timothy G. Fisher: River Warren boulders, Minnesota, USA: catastrophic paleflow indicatorsin the southern spillway of glacial Lace Agassiz. In: Boreas, Band 33, Seiten 349–358, 2004 Archivlink (Memento vom 29. Oktober 2013 im Internet Archive) (PDF; 2,8 MB)
  11. Axel Bojanowski : Geologists discover ditches from the Baltic Sea deluge
  12. scinexx the knowledge magazine: Gigantic super flood
  13. Andrey Tchepalyga: Late glacial great flood in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The Geological Society of America 2003 Seattle Annual Meeting. 2003 [1]
  14. Quirin Schiermeier on nature.com: The megaflood that made Britain an island, July 18, 2007
  15. Article “The English Channel was a river 20,000 years ago” in “ Berliner Morgenpost ”, Saturday, September 16, 2006.
  16. Kenneth J. Hsü: The Mediterranean was a desert. On research trips with the Glomar Challenger. P. 112, Harnack, Munich 1984.
  17. D. Garcia-Castellanos et al.: Catastrophic flood of the Mediterranean after the Messinian salinity crisis. In: Nature Bd. 462, 10. Dezember 2009, S. 778–781, doi:10.1038/nature08555