Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2420
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2420
14 Nov 2023
 | 14 Nov 2023

HESS Opinions: The Sword of Damocles of the Impossible Flood

Alberto Montanari, Bruno Merz, and Günter Blöschl

Abstract. Extremely large floods, or mega-floods, are often considered virtually ‘impossible’, yet are an ever-present threat similar to the sword suspended over the head of Damocles in the classical Greek anecdote. Neglecting such floods may lead to emergency situations where society is unprepared, and to disastrous consequences. Four reasons why extremely large floods are often considered next to impossible are explored here, including physical (e.g. climate change), psychological, socio-economic and combined reasons. It is argued that the risk associated with an ‘impossible’ flood may often be larger than expected, and that a bottom-up approach should be adopted that starts from the people affected and explores possibilities of risk management, giving high priority to social in addition to economic risks. Suggestions are given for managing this risk of a flood considered impossible by addressing the diverse causes of the presumed impossibility.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Alberto Montanari, Bruno Merz, and Günter Blöschl

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2420', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 Dec 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Alberto Montanari, 05 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2420', Anonymous Referee #2, 07 Feb 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Alberto Montanari, 05 Mar 2024

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2420', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 Dec 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Alberto Montanari, 05 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2420', Anonymous Referee #2, 07 Feb 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Alberto Montanari, 05 Mar 2024
Alberto Montanari, Bruno Merz, and Günter Blöschl
Alberto Montanari, Bruno Merz, and Günter Blöschl

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Short summary
Floods often take communities by surprise, as they are often considered virtually “impossible”, yet are an ever-present threat similar to the sword suspended over the head of Damocles in the classical Greek anecdote. We discuss four reasons why extremely large floods carry a risk that is often larger than expected. We provide suggestions for managing the risk of megafloods by calling for a creative exploration of hazard scenarios and communicating the unknown corners of the reality of floods.