Floods WG workshop: Floods in a warmer world: insights from paleohydrology

11.11 - 13.11.2019  
Geneva, Switzerland
Contact person:
J-A Ballesteros Canovas, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Workshop report: 
> Access

PAGES' Floods Working Group will hold a workshop, titled "Floods in a warmer world: insights from paleohydrology", from 11-13 November 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.


The meeting will take place at the Department of Earth Science of the University of Geneva, Rue des Maraîchers 13, Room 001.

The meeting will officially start on Monday 11 November at 13:00 and will end on Wednesday 13 November at 15:00.


This is the first workshop of the second phase of the Floods Working Group. Numbers will be limited to 30 participants. The idea of this workshop is to update the different work packages described in the White Paper of the FWG.

Any interested scientist can apply to attend. The selection, if necessary, will be based on the suitability of the proposed contribution to the themes. We specially will favor researchers coming from developing countries and early-career scientists.


The second phase of the FWG was launched in January 2019 and aims to develop the specific goals defined within each work package (see White Paper), with a special emphasis on engaging younger researchers.

This workshop will constitute the first important meeting of the second phase of the FWG, allowing us to update and make progress on the performed activities so far. Specifically, we expect:

1. To contribute to assess changes in frequency and magnitude of floods during dissimilar cold(warm)/dry(wet) climate periods.

2. To advance the methods for data integration from different archives. Several challenges related to this topic have been identified (FWG Work Package 2).

3. To find common strategies to include past flood records in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies. This is motivated by the interest of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) on the added value of paleo floods archives for DRR (FWG Work Package 3).


Three sessions are planned:

Session 1: The added value of paleoflood records in Disaster Risk Management
Session 2: Flood activity in a warmer world: insights from paleoflood records
Session 3: Steps ahead on the creation of a common paleoflood database and general discussion

Monday 11 November: Registration, welcome and Session 1

13:00-14:00: Registration
14:00-14:30: Welcome
14:30-15:30: Session 1
15:30-15:45: Coffee Break
15:45-17:30: cont. Session 1
19:00: Dinner and social activity

Tuesday 12 November: Session 2

08:30-10:15: Session 2
10:15-10:30: Coffee Break
10:30-12:15: Session 2
12:15-14:00: Lunch (free time)
14:00-15:30: Session 2
15:30-15:45: Coffee Break
15:45-17:30: Session 2

Wednesday 13: Session 3 and Summary

08:30-10:15: Session 3
10:15-10:30: Coffee Break
10:30-12:30: Discussion (cont.)
12:30-13:30: Lunch (catering – if possible)
14:00-15:00: Farewell


The main goal of this workshop is to favor a scientific exchange around two topics, namely the role of paleofloods on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and better assess changes in flood activities during warmer periods.

In particular, the specific goals are:

1. To summarize the current state of knowledge related to changes in flood activities between past cold and warm climate phases at regional and global scales. In particular, this session aims to bring knowledge on the following questions:

- Is the flood frequency of the 20th/21st century higher than observed in the past?
- Is the magnitude of modern (i.e. 20th/21st century) flood events higher than those observed in the past?
- How has the flood frequency/magnitude between cold and warm periods of similar time lengths (Little Ice Age versus Medieval Climate Anomaly or Optimum Holocene versus late Holocene) evolved throughout time?
- Does temperature seem to play a role in the recorded flood frequency and/or flood magnitude?

2. To define further strategies to include paleoflood events in flood hazard scenarios, engagement with stakeholders concerning flood hazard and disasters:

- How can past flood information change the flood-frequency assessment at local and regional scale?
- Do past floods reveal failures in the conventional flood-frequency assessment?
- How should the information gathered from past flood disasters be communicated to stakeholders and the public?
- How do past floods provide a better understanding of the potential response of extreme flooding to climate change for planning and adaption?

Workshop outputs

Plans are a review paper on changes in flood activity related to cold/warm climate phases that will rely on the workshop material and an upcoming survey and a Science Brief describing how past flood data can contribute to implement more reliable DRR strategies. To this end, key international stakeholders are being contacted: UNESCO and UNSIDR. A collaboration with PAGES' CRIAS working group will be established as well.

Financial support

PAGES has committed some travel and accommodation financial support for early-career researchers, especially those coming from developing countries. Please explain in the motivation statements of the application documents why PAGES should contribute funds for your attendance.


It is mandatory to complete the registration form and write an abstract about your contribution, and return it to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Registrations close 1 October 2019. Download the registration form here (194KB, docx).

Further information

Access further information, including maps, accommodation options and visas, here (1.3MB, docx).

So far, the group has collected a pool of paleoflood data, and related parameters (metadata).

Questions about the workshop can be sent to the working group leaders:

Juan Antonio Ballesteros Canovas, UNIGE, Switzerland: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lothar Schulte, University of Barcelona, Spain: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Bruno Wilhelm, Institute for Geosciences and Environmental Research, Grenoble, France: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.