Understanding levee failures can be significantly improved by analysing historical failures, experiments and performance observations. Individual efforts have been undertaken to document flood defence failures but no systematically gathered large scale, open access dataset is currently available for thorough scientific research. Here, we introduce an efficiently structured, global database, called International Levee Performance Database (ILPD), which aims to become a valuable knowledge platform in the field of levee safety. It comprises information on levee characteristics, failure mechanisms, geotechnical investigations and breach processes for more than 1500 cases (October 2019). We provide a macro-scale analysis of the available data, aiming to provide insights on levee behaviour based on historical records. We outline common failure mechanisms of which external erosion is identified as the most frequent for levees. As an example, we investigate flood events occurred in Germany (2002, 2013) and examine breach characteristics of hundreds of failures. It is found that initial failure mechanisms have an influence on breach characteristics and that failures due to instability and internal erosion are less frequent but lead to larger breaches. Moreover, a relation between the return period and the expected breach density during a flood event is identified. These insights could complement flood risk assessments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • levee failures, database, flood risk, flood defences, levee breach

ID: 68175914