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Outburst Flood from Möhne Reservoir in May 1943 After Aerial Bombing

  • Jürgen HergetEmail author
  • Lukas Gregori
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Part of the Geography of the Physical Environment book series (GEOPHY)

Abstract

Among the widespread phenomenon of outburst floods, a luckily unique event was the one artificially triggered by a bombardment during World War II. Among other reservoirs, the British Royal Air Force bombed the Möhne Reservoir located in the headwaters of the River Ruhr to interrupt drinking water supply for the Ruhr District, the armoury of Germany in those days. By this operation “Chastise”, the dam wall of the Möhne Reservoir was destroyed. Based on analysis of historical documents, eyewitnesses reports and flood marks along the pathway of the outburst flood its frontal wave velocity and flood levels are reconstructed. Based on the flood levels, the peak discharge in different sections along the valley of the River Ruhr could be modelled. As mentioned in the historic reports, the outburst flood could be significantly buffered in lakes long valley. By these measures, the peak discharge was significantly reduced and further damage avoided. The release of water from the lakes downstream of the destroyed dam wall confused flood chronologies in previous publications. The findings presented here are based on discussions of plausibility and consistency of the historic records and reports and could consider previously not known unpublished historic gauge data including newly modelled discharge estimations.

Keywords

Outburst flood Man-made flood Dam failure Flood weapon Strategic flooding Warfare 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors appreciate logistical and intellectual support by numerous persons and organizations, amongst others, Anica Althoff, Paul Carling, Jürgen Dodt (✞), Uwe Jansen, Till Kasielke, Daniel Koch, Oskar Kroll, Hans Middelkoop and Lioba Wachter should be named individually. The topic was presented and discussed during the workshop EX-AQUA 2016 “Palaeohydrological extreme events—evidence and archives” in Padova/Italy which was kindly supported by the INQUA commission on Terrestrial Processes, Deposits and History TERPRO.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyBonn UniversityBonnGermany

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