Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Journey back through time to help manage river floods

11.06.2003


Statistically, there is little likelihood of anybody experiencing a major river flood whose average recurrence interval is one hundred or one thousand years. Predicting and designing of such events involves going back in time, three or four centuries, by scrutinising records of severe flooding. Joint researches by Cemagref hydrologist Michel Lang and historian Denis Coeur have reconstructed the history of three French rivers, the Guiers, Isere and Ardeche, a unique picture which has been incorporated in the European SPHERE project involving French, German, Canadian, Spanish and Israeli teams.



esearch on three rivers

The search began with the Guiers, the historical boundary between France and Savoy. Using a qualitative recension of river floods, a list of the ten largest events recorded over the last 300 years was drawn up. Attention then turned to the Isere, to test the method on a river which had been extensively developed and controlled, and to see if the past could yield insights into the future. Four centuries of data was used. Contemporary eyewitness accounts are not ignored, and can be consulted on the Internet at http://www.lyon.cemagref.fr/hh/base-in/base_in_anglais/isere1859/presentation.htm where there is an illustrated account of the worst river flood, in 1859. The geography of the flood plain made it impossible to calculate river flow from water levels, because the flood plain is too wide and its contours insufficiently documented before the 19th century. Abundant information is available for the Ardeche river. Two sites were given special attention near the gorges, at Vallon Pont d’Arc and Saint Martin d’Ardeche. River flow has been recalculated from 1644 to the present. The largest river flood has been reconstituted with a 50% margin of error, which is comparable to today’s level of accuracy on high streamflows.


Close look

Historical records yield information on the damage caused by a river flood, how the emergency was managed and, sometimes, more technical data on water levels or river geometry. Palaeohydrologists may be called in to take a close look at the sediments and organic material in the flood plain and date the deposits. In the Ardeche area, they inspected caves to look for precious particulates loaded with information and count how many times the water level rose higher than the cave. Working from the historical shape of the river bed and a hydraulic model, the researchers built up streamflow data series and assessed the magnitude of each event. With these long series in hand, it was possible to compare different methods of estimating rare river floods and validate, on the Ardeche, the Gradex method used in France for assessing the safety of large dams.

Risk culture

A combination of hydrologist and historian is vital in addressing flooding so that the riparian population retain the memory of the risks involved. On the Saone river at Lyon, the researchers intend to make historical information available in the form of a column showing the present water level and the levels reached by the most extreme floods, together with the main vagaries of the river. This is in line with the new legislation on risk, making it a duty to mark flood levels on public buildings.

The historical data collected may also help in finding strategies for managing rare events, by optimising emergency plans and setting extreme flood levels more accurately. Methodological guidelines for technicians are being drafted jointly with the European countries taking part in the SPHERE programme.

Michel Lang | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cemagref.fr/Informations/Presse/indexgb.htm
http://www.lyon.cemagref.fr/hh/base-in/base_in_anglais/isere1859/presentation.htm

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>