How can people better arm themselves against flood disasters like the one in West Germany? A scientist in Potsdam focuses on a field of research that is still in its infancy.
Potsdam (dpa) – Scientist Michael Dietz of the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam is relying on searching for tidal waves as a result of erosion to better warn residents.
“Research on this topic is still in its infancy, but it has huge potential to warn residents of such floods as quickly as possible – not just here in Germany, but in many endangered areas around the world,” he said Friday.
It is difficult to predict erosion processes because they occur very quickly. Satellite imagery and seismometers are used to try to follow tidal waves in near real time. Weather forecasts can also be entered into hydrological models to predict floods.
Regarding the flood disaster in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, he said that water has such strength because large quantities quickly destroyed the Earth’s surface and carried things with it. The researcher said that after heavy rains in large quantities, the water flows off the surface and can reach very high speeds. The higher the speed, the greater the gradient, and the deeper the river, the more powerful the water it could develop on land.
“Wherever it flows, it pulls with the force of a weight of several kilograms,” Dietz said. This is enough to remove sand, stones and rubble. “It hit the ground, the streets, the walls of the houses, and it did a great deal of erosion.” Once parts of it are attacked, the base material can be moved away more easily. This can lead to serious damage in a short time.