Please note that this session was withdrawn and is no longer available in the respective programme. This withdrawal might have been the result of a merge with another session.


Toxic Floods – European summer floods 2021 – heavy rain, flash floods and small river flooding

The summer of 2021 was characterized by severe (flash) floods and heavy rain events. Throughout the month of July many European countries experienced unexpectedly high precipitation (>200L/m²) for over 48 hours, but also China’s Henan province faced deluging rains. The summer floods can also be seen as the ‘crisis of the small rivers’ in remoter areas. Especially in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, England and Germany water levels of small rivers in mountainous regions have risen dramatically, overflowed their banks and caused numerous deaths and destruction in the billions (€).
While heavy rain and river floods are natural events and a part of the water cycle, they have become more frequent and more intense within the past century. Floods have accounted for economic losses, infrastructural damages, human fatalities, and to changes of natural environments by the interaction with human activities. In order to understand fundamental processes behind dispersion and accumulation of harmful or even toxic substances, the corresponding environmental ecotoxicological effects and socio-economic consequences of ‘toxic floods’ can be assessed by a joint inter- and multidisciplinary effort including the determination of a flood’s toxicity, processes of transport, distribution, deposition, dilution, and enrichment by riverine and marine flood events.
Therefore this session focusses on (i) chemical pollution as one of the main drivers of ecosystem deterioration, the flood-induced transport paths, temporary storage, sequential remobilization and final deposition of toxic pollutants, and particularly their effect on biodiversity loss; (ii) the effects of anthropogenic climate change on increasing frequency and intensity of future flood events; and (iii) human activities in river basins and coastlines that will accelerate the quantities and spreading of toxic agents, and will also increase the vulnerability of the local society.

Co-organized by
Convener: Piero BellanovaECSECS | Co-conveners: Catrina Brüll, Sarah Crawford, Pedro Costa