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Project X1 by Heather Jean Murdock, (University of Potsdam & FU Berlin): Analysis of the extreme flood event of July 2021: cascading processes and risk communication

Timescale: Oct 2021 - Sept 2024


Prof. Annegret Thieken, University of Potsdam

Prof. Axel Bronstert, University of Potsdam

Prof. Henning Rust, FU Berlin

Dr. Sigrid Roessner, GFZ Potsdam



The extreme flood event of July 2021 which affected Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands was a rapid onset event which led to severe damages, loss of life, and disruption to infrastructure (Dietz et al. 2021). Several characteristics of this event posed challenges for warnings and risk communication. While there have been significant improvements in recent years in warning systems for clear water floods in large rivers in Germany (Kreibich et al. 2017; Thieken, Annegret H., et al. 2016), rapid onset events with debris and high sediment transport rates pose unique challenges. This project seeks to understand where the existing challenges are for flood early warning systems for rapid onset events. This will be studied at a regional level and for different groups including private households and infrastructure owners. In addition to time scale issues, cascading processes present a challenge for early warning systems. The role of cascading processes will be investigated in the context of impact-based warning approaches. The project consists of three steps:

  1. Analyse the results of a survey of private households regarding the July 2021 flood at a regional level
  2. Investigation of warning reception and response of infrastructure owners and operators through a survey or interviews
  3. Analysis of cascading processes and implications for impact-based warning approaches

Dedicated Regional Cluster(s):  Germany

Related PhD-projects: N/A


Dietze, Michael, and Ugur Ozturk. 2021. "A flood of disaster response challenges." Science 373.6561: 1317-1318.

Kreibich, Heidi, et al. 2017. "New insights into flood warning reception and emergency response by affected parties." Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 17.12: 2075-2092.

Thieken, Annegret H., et al. 2016 "Review of the flood risk management system in Germany after the major flood in 2013." Ecology and Society 21.2.