Natural Hazards

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 125–148 | Cite as

Major flood disasters in Europe: 1950–2005

  • José I. BarredoEmail author
Original Paper


There is a need for comprehensive, standardised and georeferenced information on floods for political and economic decision-making. Relevant, accurate and up-to-date data is an important aspect for resource distribution, mitigation programmes, disaster monitoring and assessment. Despite this, there is a lack of spatial and thematic accurate global data for floods. In Europe, historic data on flood losses and casualties are neither comprehensive nor standardised, thus making long-term analyses at continental level difficult. In this article, we present a map and catalogue of the major flood events of the last 56 years in the European Union (EU), Bulgaria and Romania. This study is an effort to alleviate the lack of homogeneous and georeferenced information on flood disasters for large periods in Europe. The objectives of this paper are to identify and classify the major flood disasters of the last 56 years in the EU; to map the major flood disasters at pan-European scale with the support of a potential flood hazard map and ancillary GIS datasets; and to give a picture of the current situation for major floods in the EU on the basis of past events and current trends.

The Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) of the Centre of Research on Epidemiology of Disasters in Brussels (CRED) and United States Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and NATHAN of Munich Re are two of the main public global databases for natural disasters. Information from EM-DAT and NATHAN on flood disasters producing more than 70 casualties and/or more than 0.005% of EU GDP in damage has been assessed for the production of the map and catalogue of major flood disasters in Europe.


Floods Europe EM-DAT NATHAN GIS Flood disasters Flood mapping Major floods 



We would like to thank the anonymous referees for their helpful suggestions. The views expressed are purely those of the writer and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Land Management and Natural Hazards Unit European Commission – DG Joint Research Centre,Ispra (VA)Italy

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