The July 2021 flood in central Europe was one of the five costliest disasters in Europe in the last half century, with an estimated total damage of EUR 32 billion. The aim of this study is to analyze and assess the flood within an interdisciplinary approach along its entire process chain: the synoptic setting of the atmospheric pressure fields, the processes causing the high rainfall totals, the extraordinary streamflows and water levels in the affected catchments, the hydro-morphological effects, and the impacts on infrastructure and society. In addition, we address the question of what measures are possible to generate added value to early response management in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
The superposition of several factors resulted in widespread extreme precipitation totals and water levels well beyond a 100-year event: slow propagation of the low pressure system Bernd, convection embedded in a mesoscale precipitation field, unusually moist air masses associated with a significant positive anomaly in sea surface temperature over the Baltic Sea, wet soils, and steep terrain in the affected catchments. Various hydro-morphodynamic processes as well as changes in valley morphology observed during the event exacerbated the impact of the flood. ... mehr