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Global Change Research Institute, CAS

Over five hundred years in Europe, there have been nine periods where the number of floods rose sharply, according to a publication in Nature

The topic on how the frequency and intensity of floods in Europe has changed over the last five hundred years has been studied by an international team of scientists, including members of the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. From documentary historical sources and systematic hydrological observations, the scientists analyzed increased flood activity periods, out of which a total of nine were described. The last such period took place in the past three decades and was the richest as far as floods are concerned. In addition, the floods occurred more often in the summer season. According to the scientists, this should be taken into account when preparing strategies and flood risk management. An extensive historical survey of floods in Europe has been published by Nature journal.

Those significant periods were discovered in the analysis of more than a hundred of long flood series, which provide an overview of emergency events on major European streams. The scientists reconstructed the periods based on data from various historical sources, such as chronicles, newspapers, diaries or pictorial documentation, but also with the use of systematic hydrological observations.

“The study showed that the years 1990 to 2016 were among the floodiest in Europe in the context of the last 500 years. However, the extent, seasonality and air temperatures differed from previous periods of increased flood activity,” said one of the authors of the study, Rudolf Brázdil from the Faculty of Science of Masaryk University and the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Monika Bělínová from the Global Change Research Institute CAS presents the work of historical climatology and hydrology as follows: “Over the years, we have created a database of data on weather and hydrometeorological extremes from documentary data for climate reconstruction and other historical-climatological analyzes. The aim of the reconstruction is to compile continuous series of precipitation and temperature and, among other things, the chronology of floods”.

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