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Digital Information System provides information on the risk of heavy rainfall in the German state of Hesse

Digital Information System provides information on the risk of heavy rainfall in the German state of Hesse

Heavy rainfall events can very quickly lead to flooded roads and a failure of sewage systems that can then no longer safely transport wastewater. Basements and underground car parks are swamped, streams turn into torrents and mud from farmland paves its way into residential areas. All this can cause the damage of private and public infrastructure and, in the worst case, endanger human life. The federal state of Hesse is affected by this risk to a great extent. Prominent examples include the city of Alsfeld and its neighbouring towns and also the city of Offenbach am Main, which have been hit several times by heavy rainfall since 2000 and consequently by massive flooding, traffic disruptions and mudslides.

Since forecasts predict an increase in heavy rainfall events in the future, the Hessian State Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology (HLNUG) initiated the project "KLIMPRAX Heavy Rainfall and Civil Protection in Municipalities" on behalf of the Hessian Ministry of Environment (HMUKLV), in which the Institute of Physical Geography and Landscape Ecology of the LUH and also the Research Center Jülich (FZJ, IBG-3: Agrosphere) has been involved since 2016. Professor Dr. Gerald Kuhnt led the project at the LUH and Dr. Björn Tetzlaff (FZJ), a long time lecturer at the Institute of Physical Geography, and M.Sc. Jennifer Kreklow (LUH) conducted most of the work. Their main task was to develop methods to create the first nationwide heavy rainfall warning map in order to identify particularly vulnerable municipalities. At the Institute for Physical Geography and Landscape Ecology, the 5-minute radar measurements of precipitation by the German Weather Service (DWD) were evaluated for the period 2001-2016 in order to identify those areas where heavy rainfall had frequently occurred. These data were used by Forschungszentrum Jülich to determine in high-resolution 2D hydrodynamic modeling which type of flooding occurs after heavy rainfall of different intensities and whether increased mudslides or the occurrence of hazardous substances from industrial plants must be expected. In order to make this information comprehensible for urban and regional planning departments, municipal decision-makers and the interested public, the FZJ developed a heavy rainfall index (see map) and a vulnerability index, which visually maps the problematic regions for the entire state of Hesse.

The project partners LUH and FZJ provide a digital information system which can be viewed at Other project partners, e.g. the Hessian Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for the fire departments, and local umbrella organizations practically implement these research results.



Published by Jennifer Kreklow