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Third-party-funded project

Extreme hydrological events in Central Europe since 1500 - processes and effects

Project management at the University of Würzburg:

Participating scientists:

This research project, supported by the DFG, and integrating the historical climate
databank (HISKLID) compiled by PD Dr. Rüdiger Glaser at Würzburg, will proceed in
tandem with a research group at the Postdam Institue for Climate Research and is
directly linked to the Project 'Flood Frequency and Public Risk Management in
Historical Perspective (FLOODRISK) undertaken by the research group at the
Geographical and Historical Institute of the University of Bern, with the support of the
Swiss National Science Foundation. In addition it includes co-operation with the
Geographical Institute of the University of Brno, the Institute for Prehistoric
Archaeology of the University of Halle and the Geographical Institute of the University
of Erfurt.

The general objective of this joint project is, on the basis of documentary source material
from central Europe, to investigate the frequency of flood-events and periods of drought
in the last five hundred years, in order to reach a characterization of the climate and
circulation dynamics of hydrologically differing periods and compile a database with
regard to the social effects of such extreme weather events. The extensive period of
time under investigation allows a proper classification of the most recent developments
from the last few decades in the long-term hydrological and climatological spectrum of
variability, and allows greater possibilities for judging the present and expected
tendencies in the frequency of flood-events in central Europe.

In particular the interlinked project includes the following areas
of investigation:

The construction of flood-series for central European catchment areas
since 1500 for the indentification of periods of increased or reduced
frequencies of flood events;

The reconstruction of gridded monthly and seasonal fields of air
pressure, temperature and precipiation since 1500, based on early
instrumental measures and various forms of climatic indices that have
been derived from documentary source material;

Characterization of the weather conditions of the historical time
periods of increased or reduced flood event frequency;

Analyses of the circulation dynamics of the 500 year long period under
investigation in order to identify possible differences in the
atmospheric circulation regime between periods of varying flood event

Preparatory compilation of data on the 'social impact' of extreme
hydrological events.

Key words:
    historical flood events in Central Europe
    climate and circulation analyses

Projekt period: from 03.1999 to 02.2001

Funding institution:
DFG ,Granting date: 02.11.1998


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