The Great Flood - Hamburg 1962

Can the disaster be repeated?

Storm surge 1962 in Hamburg Gerhard Pietsch / GFDL
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Exactly 50 years ago, a devastating natural disaster broke out over Hamburg and the entire North Sea coast: a storm surge of unimaginable proportions caused one-sixth of the city to sink into masses of water. More than 300 people died on 16 and 17 February 1962 in the floods, 30, 000 were homeless.

An exception? An extreme case? Or again at any time? After all, was the storm Vincinette, which triggered the disaster, not even the strongest representative of its kind. Fatal was then, however, the coincidence of inadequate dyke protection, too late response of the responsible and the enormous duration of the relentlessly pressing against the coast wind.

Since then, the dikes have long grown considerably, the coastal protection was expanded. But is this still enough given climate change and rising sea levels? Do we soon have to expect stronger storms and more dangerous storm surges?

These and many other questions are posed today by climate researchers, meteorologists and coastal protection experts. Your previous record: do not panic, at present the coastal protection is quite sufficient, the dikes still hold. For the future, however, the prospects are obviously far less rosy ...

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Nadja Podbregar, Jens Oppermann, Dieter Lohmann
Stand: 16.02.2012 Display