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Reconstruction of the genesis, process and impact of major pre-instrumental flood events of major Swiss rivers including a peak discharge quantification

English title Reconstruction of the genesis, process and impact of major pre-instrumental flood events of major Swiss rivers including a peak discharge quantification
Applicant Rohr Christian
Number 153327
Funding scheme Interdisciplinary projects
Research institution Abteilung Wirtschafts-, Sozial- und Umweltgeschichte Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Swiss history
Start/End 01.07.2014 - 28.02.2018
Approved amount 537'576.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Swiss history
Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
General history (without pre-and early history)

Keywords (8)

Limmat; flood; Rhine; Environmental History; Reuss; Aare; Historical Hydrology; Switzerland

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Das historisch-hydrologische Forschungsprojekt legt den Fokus auf die Zeit vor dem Beginn der instrumentellen Messperiode und verfolgt das Ziel, die Scheitelwasserstände extremer Hochwasserereignisse (13.-19. Jh.) unter Berücksichtigung der damaligen hydrologischen Bedingungen zu rekonstruieren. Basierend auf repräsentativen historischen Grund-, Quer- und Längsprofilaufnahmen werden die Scheitelwasserstände in Spitzenabflüsse umgerechnet. Diese Rekonstruktionen werden an geeigneten Standorten (Aare, Limmat, Reuss, Rhein, Saane, Sihl) vorgenommen. Es kann davon ausgegangen werden, dass heutige Hochwasserereignisse wesentlich durch die umfassenden Gewässerkorrektionen im 19. und 20. Jh. beeinflusst werden und generell weniger hohe Spitzenabflüsse erzielen als jene Ereignisse, die sich vor diesen Korrektionen ereigneten. Der Einfluss der Gewässerkorrektionen wird somit quantifiziert, sodass die vorinstrumentellen Hochwasserereignisse mit heutigen vergleichbar gemacht werden können.
Lay summary

Das historisch-hydrologische Forschungsprojekt legt den Fokus auf die Zeit vor dem Beginn der instrumentell-hydrologischen Messperiode und verfolgt das Ziel, die Scheitelwasserstände extremer vorinstrumenteller Hochwasserereignisse (13.-19. Jh.), unter Berücksichtigung der damaligen hydrologischen Bedingungen, zu rekonstruieren. Basierend auf repräsentativen historischen Grund-, Quer- und Längsprofilaufnahmen werden die Scheitelwasserstände in Spitzenabflüsse umgerechnet. Diese Rekonstruktionen werden an geeigneten Standorten der Aare, der Limmat, der Reuss, des Rheins, der Saane und der Sihl vorgenommen. Die Auswahl dieser Fliessgewässer liegt vor allem an der Eignung der Untersuchungsstandorte hinsichtlich der zur Verfügung stehenden vorinstrumentellen Hochwasserdaten (Hochwasserberichte, historische Profilaufnahmen etc.), welche sich daher vor allem auf historisch bedeutende Städte wie Basel, Bern, Brugg, Luzern, Schaffhausen, Solothurn und Zürich konzentrieren. Erste Ergebnisse bestätigen, dass heutige Hochwasserereignisse wesentlich durch die umfassenden Gewässerkorrektionen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert beeinflusst werden und generell weniger hohe Spitzenabflüsse erzielen als jene Ereignisse, die sich vor diesen Korrektionen ereigneten. Dieses Projekt verfolgt daher auch das Ziel, den Einfluss der Gewässerkorrektionen zu quantifizieren, sodass die vorinstrumentellen Hochwasserereignisse mit heutigen vergleichbar gemacht und lange homogene Hochwasserreihen erstellt werden können. Langfristig besteht zudem das Ziel relevante historisch hydrologische Grundlagendaten und Forschungsergebnisse in einer Datenbank zu erfassen, um sie für die Forschung und weitere Interessierte zugänglich zu machen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 17.05.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Mobiliar Climate Impact Group, Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
The Section Landscape and Waters of Canton Aargau (Departement Bau, Verkehr und Umwelt; Abteilung L Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
TK-Consult Corporation Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
The Civil Engineering Department of Canton Basel (Tiefbauamt Basel-Stadt) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Instiute of Geography, Section of Hydrology Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Engineer Hydrology, Vienna University of Technology Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
9th Biennual Conference of the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH): "Natures in between Environments in areas of contact among states, economic systems, cultures and religions" Poster Quantifi cation of Extreme River Floods as well as Seasonal and Frequency Analysis of Flood Events from Information Provided Within Historical Records 28.06.2017 Zagreb, Croatia Tuttenuj Daniel Uwe;
9th Biennual Conference of the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH): "Natures in between Environments in areas of contact among states, economic systems, cultures and religions" Talk given at a conference The Unifying Disaster? Coping with Extreme Flood Events on the Shores of Lake Constance and in the Alpine Rhine Valley from the Late Medieval to The Early 20th Century 28.06.2017 Zagreb, Croatia Tuttenuj Daniel Uwe;
PAGES Past Global Changes. 5th Open Science Meeting Talk given at a conference Reconstruction of magnitude and long term seasonal variability of pre instrumental floods based on documentary evidence. A history of stability and distinctive anthropogenic alterations. 13th – 21st Century 09.05.2017 Zaragoza, Spain Wetter Oliver;
European Geosciences Union (EGU) Poster Historical Hydrological Atlas of Switzerland 23.04.2017 Wien, Austria Wetter Oliver;
PAGES Past Global Changes. Floods Working Group: Cross community workshop on past flood variability Talk given at a conference Reconstruction of peak water levels, peak discharges and long-term occurrence of extreme- as well as smaller pre-instrumental flood events of river Aare, Limmat, Reuss, Rhine and Saane in Switzerland 27.06.2016 Grenoble, France Wetter Oliver;
European Geosciences Union (EGU) Talk given at a conference Reconstruction of peak water levels, peak discharges and long-term occurrence of extreme- as well as smaller pre-instrumental flood events of river Aare, Limmat, Reuss, Rhine and Saane in Switzerland. Part I 18.04.2016 Wien, Austria Wetter Oliver;
Deutscher Kongress für Geographie 2015 / 59. Konferenz für Wissenschaft, Schule und Praxis Talk given at a conference Low probability, high impact Ereignis: Die eurpäische Hitze und Dürre von 1540. Rekonstruktion der Temperatur- und Niederschlagsanomalie des Extremereignisses von 1540 01.10.2015 Berlin, Germany Wetter Oliver;
Fachtagung. Staatsarchiv Solothurn Individual talk Historische Hydrologie. Rekonstruktion und Quantifizierung vorinstrumenteller Hochwasser basierend auf historischen Archivalien am Fallbeispiel von Basel, Zürich und Solothurn 04.09.2015 Solothurn, Switzerland Wetter Oliver;
14th Swiss Climate Summer School - "Extreme Events and Climate" Poster Extreme River Floods in Western Switzerland and the Lake of Constance Region in the Period Prior to Instrumental Measurements 23.08.2015 Ascona, Switzerland Tuttenuj Daniel Uwe;
XIX INQUA Congress. Quaternary Perspectives on Climate Change, Natural Hazards and Civilization Talk given at a conference Low probability, high impact event: The European „mega“ drought of 1540. A millennial drought? 26.07.2015 Nagoya, Japan Wetter Oliver;
14th European Meteorological Society Annual Meeting & 10th Conference on Applied Climatology Poster Reconstruction and quantification of „extreme“ and detection of „normal“ pre-instrumental flood events of major Swiss Rivers. Presentation of the goals and first results of the Swiss National Science Foundation research project 06.10.2014 Prag, Czech Republic Wetter Oliver; Tuttenuj Daniel Uwe;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
140572 Der „teuerste Wildbach der Schweiz“. Die Umsetzung von Hochwasserschutzkonzepten vor Ort unter Einschluss ihrer vielfältigen Konsequenzen am Beispiel der Gürbe, 1848-2008 01.05.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The reconstruction of extreme hydrological events of the period before the onset of national hydrological gauge measurements (pre-instrumental period) is one of the main goals of this research project. This will include an emphasis on the long-term series of reconstructed peak discharges of pre-instrumental flood events of main Swiss rivers (Aare, Limmat, Reuss, and Rhine Rivers). Another out put will be the reconstruction of flooding areas. Furthermore, the reconstructed pre-instrumental peak discharges shall be homogenised to the actual hydrological regime so that they become comparable with floods under present day conditions. Preliminary investigations have shown that such a homogenisation procedure will be possible for the High Rhine River, whereas this possibility still needs to be verified for other rivers. Inaccuracies of the reconstruction assessments of pre-instrumental peak discharges shall be displayed and quantified in percentage to the reconstructed discharges in order to make them fully usable for the (statistical) assessment of recurrence periods of extreme flood events (=HQ 100). Finally, the occurrence of so called “normal” floods of the Aare and Rhine Rivers will be reconstructed, from which a better understanding about long-term normal flood seasonality and frequency should be obtained (recurring periods of probably HQ 1-5; to be verified).A longer term goal is the set up a historical hydrological database, specially designed for the needs of research and (federal or private) institutions being interested in flood risk assessment and/or flood protection measures. The aim is on the one hand to facilitate the access to raw data which generally is needed for further historical hydrological reconstruction and quantification, so that future research will be achieved in significantly shorter time. On the other hand, new historical hydrological research results shall be continuously included in order to establish this database as a useful tool for the assessment of flood risk by including the long-term experience of reconstructed pre-instrumental floods. By homogenising this data to present day hydrological regimes and topographical conditions the available information may be used for the assessment of flood damage potential under present conditions.
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