A Comparative Study of the Effects of the 1872 Storm and Coastal Flood Risk Management in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden


Hallin, Caroline, Jacobus L.A. Hofstede, Grit Martinez, Jürgen Jensen, Nina Baron, Thorsten Heimann, Aart Kroon, Arne Arns, Björn Almström, Per Sørensen, and Magnus Larson. 2021. "A Comparative Study of the Effects of the 1872 Storm and Coastal Flood Risk Management in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden" Water 13, no. 12: 1697.

From 12 to 13 November 1872, an extreme coastal flood event occurred in the south Baltic Sea. An unusual combination of winds created a storm surge reaching up to 3.5 m above mean sea level, which is more than a meter higher than all other observations over the past 200 years. On the Danish, German, and Swedish coasts, about 300 people lost their lives. The consequences of the storm in Denmark and Germany were more severe than in Sweden, with significantly larger destruction and higher numbers of casualties. In Denmark and Germany, the 1872 storm has been more extensively documented and remembered and still influences local and regional risk awareness.

A comparative study indicates that the collective memory of the 1872 storm is related to the background knowledge about floods, the damage extent, and the response to the storm. Flood marks and dikes help to remember the events. In general, coastal flood defence is to the largest degree implemented in the affected areas in Germany, followed by Denmark, and is almost absent in Sweden, corresponding to the extent of the collective memory of the 1872 storm. Within the affected countries, there is local variability of flood risk awareness associated with the collective memory of the storm. Also, the economic dependency on flood-prone areas and conflicting interests with the tourism industry have influence on flood protection decisions. The processes of climate change adaptation and implementation of the EU Floods Directive are slowly removing these differences in flood risk management approaches.

Caroline Hallin
Jacobus L. A. Hofstede
Jürgen Jensen
Nina Baron
Thorsten Heimann
Aart Kroon
Arne Arns
Björn Almström
Björn Almström
Per Sørensen
Magnus Larson
Published in
Published by
1872 storm, collective memory, historical storms, flood risk management
Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Europe, Baltic Sea
comparative study

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