Scientists have noted the uniqueness of the floods occurring in Europe

Scientists have identified nine periods of the greatest intensity of river floods in Europe over the past 500 years. One of them includes the last three decades, which is different from all previous periods of flooding. The study is published in the journal Nature.

Over the past decade, floods in Europe brought large economic losses. They are becoming more frequent and widespread. Scientists geographers from different countries joined forces to find out what distinguishes the current situation from other periods, rich in floods in the past.

Using archival data, legal documents, Newspapers, and official and private correspondence, researchers under the leadership of Blesle günther (Günter Blöschl) from the Vienna University of technology has established a database of 9576 floods across Europe during the period 1500 to 2016. The Russian side was attended by the Professor of geographical faculty of Moscow state University, Deputy Director of the Institute of geography RAS Andrey Panin.

The authors identified nine periods of flood in the history of Europe. This last period differs from the others the seasonality, length and air temperatures. Prior periods have been generally colder, and the risk of flooding was the same for all seasons. The last period, from 1990 to 2016 was approximately 1.4 degrees warmer, and flooding occurred mostly in the summer.

In addition, before the extreme flooding covers only some regions of Europe: 1592-1640, they happened only in the Iberian Peninsula and southern France, 1860-1890-s — on East Central Europe, and in the 1910-1940's-only in Scandinavia. The period 1990 to 2016 was the first time that flooding occurred throughout Western and Central Europe. It is also characteristic that in the past, periods of flooding coincided with the cold, and in the last 30 years the frequency of floods has increased on the background of warming, perhaps the most significant over the last Millennium.

The authors point out that, although their data are limited to 2016, the period of inundation, it seems, continues.

"2016, it may not be the latest in a series of years, rich in floods. Just this year end observations used in the study — presented in a press release from MSU, the words of Andrei Panin. — With regard to Eastern Europe, which includes the European part of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic countries, the available data was not enough for statistical analysis. The flood we caused an unusually large amount of snow and friendly in the spring and in the Northern half of the Russian plain — as ice jams, which podprygivaya the rivers flowing to the North. All these phenomena are not typical for Central and Western European rivers. There's a flood caused by heavy rains, sometimes combined with the melting snow in the spring".

The authors analyzed the factors that may influence the frequency and intensity of floods: annual temperature, soil moisture and characteristics of the snow cover.

"However, there are local factors determining the state of the river basins that collect falling out of the atmosphere, the water, — said Panin. — In the Northern and Central regions of the European part of Russia, flooding associated with snow melt waters. Warming reduces the risk of such flooding, as the winter becomes shorter, warmer and less snow accumulates. But in the southern region, the Kuban, Stavropol and North Caucasus in General and the response of hydrological systems to the warming occurs in Central and Western European scenario. Witness the series of destructive floods that occurred in the region since the beginning of this century. Here it is necessary to invest in measures to flood protection, means of hydrological forecast and to restore the badly depleted network of hydrometric and meteorological observations".

Climate models show that over the past 30 years hydroclimatic conditions in Europe changed, and the current and future increase in precipitation due to the high intensity of the heated atmosphere than the particularities of air mass circulation. Scientists say that the uniqueness of the current period, rich in floods, requires a new risk assessment of these natural hazards and strategies for managing them.