07 Jul 2022
07 Jul 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Compound Flood Events: Analysing the joint occurrence of extreme river discharge events and storm surges in Northern and Central Europe

Philipp Heinrich1, Stefan Hagemann1, Ralf Weisse1, Corinna Schrum1,2, Ute Daewel1, and Lidia Gaslikova1 Philipp Heinrich et al.
  • 1Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Max-Planck-Straße 1, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany
  • 2Institute of Oceanography, University of Hamburg, Bundesstraße 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

Abstract. The simultaneous occurrence of extreme events gained more and more attention from scientific research in the last couple of years. These compound extreme events have an increased damage potential, compared to the separate occurrence of extreme events, and became a core topic in risk assessment. It is important to improve our understanding of the underlying mechanisms that can cause compound flood events. Our study focuses on the analysis of potential compound flood events with the following contributions. First, we introduce a Monte–Carlo approach to analyse flood event probabilities in northern and central Europe without the use of copulas or ensembles. Second, we investigate if the number of observed compound extreme events is within the expected range of two standard deviations of randomly occurring compound events. This includes variations of several parameters to test the stability of the identified patterns. Finally, we analyse if the observed compound extreme events had a common driver. The results of our investigation show that rivers along the western facing coasts of Europe experienced a higher amount of compound flood events than expected. In these regions, the vast majority of the observed potential compound flood events seem to be related to the Großwetterlage Cyclonic Westerly.

Philipp Heinrich et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2022-187', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 Aug 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Philipp Heinrich, 16 Sep 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2022-187', Anonymous Referee #2, 17 Aug 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Philipp Heinrich, 16 Sep 2022

Philipp Heinrich et al.

Philipp Heinrich et al.


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Short summary
High sea water levels co-occurring with high river discharges have the potential to cause destructive flooding. For the past decades, the number of such compound events was larger than expected by pure chance for most of the western facing coasts in Europe. Additionally rivers with smaller catchments showed higher numbers. In most cases, such events were associated with a large-scale weather pattern characterized by westerly winds and strong rainfall.