PROBABILITY + CONSEQUENCE = RISK
Based on this calculation, the Danish Emergency Management Agency has mapped the 13 biggest threats to Denmark.
'Probability' is the knowledge and experience that the authorities have available to be able to figure out where, why and when a given incident occurs.
The 'consequences' describe the damage and consequences an event can cause.
This project investigates how the danish government guards the 5.8 million people living in Denmark from these 13 threats.
The Geomagnetic point of 0 is being calibrated by engineer Lars Pedersen. The device calculates the geomagnetic radiation from the sun on earth, in order to predict magnetic shockwaves, which may cause electronic disturbances on earth. To avoid disturbance from high voltage the device is placed in the countryside far from everything.
THREAT #1: SPACE WEATHER
The sun constantly throws a large amount of energy into space (solar wind), but even though the radiation is harmful to human health, the Earth's magnetic field and the outer part of our atmosphere protect life on Earth against most of the harmful effects of the solar wind.
Occasionally, however, violent explosions can occur in the Sun's atmosphere. The Earth's magnetic field will interact with the amplified solar wind and mitigate it. A visible (and completely harmless) example of this is the Northern Lights, but in some cases, the interaction can create electric current in elements that are good electrical conductors. Most obvious are the high-voltage lines in our electricity supply network.
The strongest known solar storm occurred in 1859, when telegraphists in Canada were electrocuted, and in some places fires broke out in telegraph stations as a result of the surge created in the long cables. At the same time, northern lights were observed in southern countries such as Senegal, Mexico, Cuba and Colombia.
The approximately 1,300 operational satellites in orbit around the Earth are also vulnerable. On 4 November 2015, a solar flare disrupted the radar systems in Sweden, and the Swedes had to close their airspace.
The Danish Technological University's Space department is in charge of the the danish space programme, and are also leading an international satellite mission called Swarm, meant to map the earths magnetic field with unprecedented precision. DTU Space has developed the magnetometers meant to perform the measuring. The mission is part of the European Space Agencies Living Planet programme.
THREAT #2: MARITIME ACCIDENTS
Denmark has around 7300 km of coast, and along this, a variety of maritime accidents can occur. Maritime accidents poses one of the largest threats to Denmark.
Approx. 36,000 merchant ships pass through Øresund annually, while just over 27,000 pass through Storebælt.
Approximately 5,500 of these tankers carry crude oil. Accidents involving oil spread geographically fast and can have enormous consequences to the environment in the ocean, along the coastlines and to the economy.
The biggest accident happened in march 2001, when an oil-tanker collided with a freight-ship in the southeastern corner of Denmark. 2350 ton of heating oil got released into the ocean. More than 20.000 birds died.
THREAT #3: DISEASES OF HIGH VIRULENCE
Denmarks most important weapon to fight and prevent pandemics is our knowledge.
Over the years, Danish society has built national registers with information about all the country's inhabitants. Since the introduction of the civil registration number in 1968, we have been able to follow all citizens from cradle to grave. This provides a unique basis for research.
The 2,400-square-foot national biobank is among the largest in the world, giving researchers access to several million biological samples from the health care system. At the same time, these can be linked to the information in the national registers. This is - also internationally - a unique resource for great benefit of research into the causes of diseases, their prevention and treatment.
The childhood vaccination program is in itself an important reason why highly virulent - that is, highly contagious and dangerous - diseases rarely occur. Even minor declines in adherence to vaccine programs can make Denmark's herd immunity vulnerable.
THREAT #4: NUCLEAR INCIDENTS
Although there are no nuclear power plants in Denmark, there has been three research reactors in use on Risø Research Fascility near Roskilde, one of which still exists and is being removed.
About 10,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste is stored on Risø. The vast majority of the waste consists of construction waste, old smocks and other things that have been in close contact with the ionizing radiation. The fuel elements themselves are shipped back to the United States as part of the original purchase agreement. No decision has been made on an intermediate storage or a final repository for the waste.
There are over 170 reactors in operation in Europe, of which approximately 75 percent are at a distance from
Denmark, which is less than the distance to Chernobyl in Ukraine, where the world's most serious nuclear
accident to date took place in 1986. The closest is in Sweden, 65 km. from Denmark. If an accident happens, the health personel at Risø plays a vital role.
Denmark's warning sirens are tested every night without sound, but once a year - the first Wednesday in May at 12.00 - they are tested with full sound. The Danish Emergency Management Agency and the National Police test the sirens to test the entire system, but also to remind the population of the sirens' use and significance.
The physical activation takes place from a computer at the East Jutland Police in Aarhus (right).
THREAT #5: TRANSPORT ACCIDENTS
Transport accidents cover accidents both in the air and in the air.
In Europe, an average of between 25,000 and 30,000 flights are operated every day. Air transport is statistically the safest mode of transport, and fatal plane accidents are rarely seen in Denmark. Globally, the number of fatal accidents is declining, although there has been significant growth in the number of flights over the past 10 years. In 2015, Copenhagen Airport registered a record number of 26.6 million passengers.
In the same year, 178 people were killed on the roads of Denmark, in 172 accidents. In 1971, there were 1,213 deaths, the highest number registered in Denmark to date. The number covers many minor accidents.
Traffic accidents with more than two fatalities are not common. Speed restrictions, controls, speed-reducing measures, better signage and not least an increased level of safety have worked in Denmark, but transportation still remains one of the main causes of fatal accidents in Denmark.
The worst plane crash in Danish territory took place on September 8, 1989. A plane full of passengers from the Norwegian shipping company Wilhelmsen Line was on its way from Oslo to Hamburg. Shortly after the plane had entered Danish airspace, it crashed into the sea 18 km north of Hirtshals. All 55 on board lost their lives.
The worst accident in the partly state-owened SAS's history occurred at Linate Airport outside Milan on October 8, 2001. When a SAS plane took off, a smaller German-registered Cessnaplane crashed into the side of the SAS plane, which then crashed into a luggage building. All 110 on board the SAS plane died.
THREAT #6: EXTREME RAIN
Extreme rainfall is inevitable and one of the types of weather events that have affected Denmark the most in recent years.
When more rain falls than can be led away or absorbed into the ground, it is called extreme rain.
It can be difficult to forecast cloudbursts, and metropolitan areas in particular may be more vulnerable due to the so-called urban heat effect. In summer, heat accumulates over the dense settlements, creating air temperatures that are higher than in the surroundings. Urban planning is a key component in the prevention of cloudbursts.
On Saturday 2 July 2011, Greater Copenhagen was hit by a cloudburst of unprecedented dimensions. Within 24 hours, more rain fell than usually do within two months. It resulted in massive floods. According to reinsurance company Swiss Re, the cloudburst was the most expensive single incident in Europe that year. Approximately 10,000 households were affected by power outages for up to 12 hours, and approximately 50,000 customers lost heating and hot water.It is estimated that a total of 70 percent of Copenhagen Municipality's critical IT systems were close to destruction.
There is broad agreement among meteorologists and climate scientists that the risk of cloudbursts in Denmark increases as the air temperature is gradually expected to rise as a result of global warming.
Left: In the spring of 2016, DMI acquired a new supercomputer, which plays an invaluable role in the Danish emergency preparedness. To save money on the cooling of this, they chose to put it in Iceland. In the basement at DMI, there are now servers that are mirrored with the supercomputer twice a day. Right: A chalk mining ground with a DMI measuring station in the background at Stevns.
THREAT #7: PET DISEASES
Food and livestock production can be exposed to a number of serious, contagious diseases. Primarily, they are a threat to the animals themselves, but in some cases, humans can also become infected, which can have significant socio-economic consequences.
Livestock production primarily includes livestock of cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry. Figures from 2014 show that the value of livestock production was DKK 51.8 billion DKK, which corresponds to approximately 25 per cent. of Denmark's total exports of goods. Even minor outbreaks, where the situation is quickly controlled, or it turns out to be false alarm, can have major consequences.
In November 2020, during the Covid 19 pandemic, Denmark culled 17 million minks in November in response to outbreaks at more than 200 mink farms, to avoid new mutations.
THREAT #8: ACCIDENTS WITH CHEMICAL SUBSTANCES
Accidents involving chemical substances are accidents in which the substances involved, are dangerous in the event of fire, explosion or spillage. There are many types of high risk companies. Oil depots and refineries are some of the largest, but fireworks also historically pose a major risk.
The accident at the fireworks factory in Seest near Kolding on 3 November 2004, was the largest industrial accident in Denmark in recent times, in terms of material damage. The accident is believed to have started when an employee dropped a box of rockets, which then ignited.
Approximately 800 men took part in the fight against the fire, of which approximately 350 firefighters, 150 police officers and 300 home defence personel. Twelve companies were subsequently demolished, and there were damages to about 350 private houses, many of which burned completely or became uninhabitable.
THREAT #9: WATER- AND FOOD-BORNE DISEASES
Water- and food-borne diseases are caused by contamination with a wide range of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi.
In the summer of 2014, Denmark experienced the highest mortality seen in a single food-borne outbreak. A total of 41 were infected with listeria, and 17 died as a result. Analyzes of the bacteria were a key component to quickly trace the source and most likely prevent even more from becoming ill.
Reading the genetic code in a particular piece of DNA is called DNA sequencing. One can read a single part of a particular gene or the whole organism's DNA, the whole genome. Since the determination of the first genome in 1976, there has been a rapid technological development in the determination of DNA sequences, so that one can now determine a complete genome on billions of bases in a few hours. In the case of listeria, this means that the order of all 2.9 million DNA building blocks in the genome of listeria bacteria will be known.
The World Health Organization estimates that around 23 million cases of the disease occur annually in the EU due to a food-borne infection.
THREAT #10: HURRICANES AND STRONG STORMS
In the last 100 years, hurricanes have only been registered five times in Denmark, but several storms have had gusts of hurricane force. Between 1950 and 2015, the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) registered 45 storms and hurricanes that hit the country. We can not prevent wind, but in return we can warn with increasing probability, and we have a good understanding of what consequences, hurricanes and strong storms can cause.
Low pressure that occur in the atmosphere can result in strong winds at the earth's surface.
In the last 100 years, hurricanes have only been registered five times in Denmark, but several storms have had gusts of hurricane force. Between 1950 and 2015, the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) registered 45 storms and hurricanes that hit the country.
As new weather models and supercomputers develop, it becomes easier to warn of low-pressure systems. Although storms and hurricanes rarely come unannounced, it is still difficult to accurately predict their trajectory and intensity. Wind can not be prevented, but warnings can be made with increasing probability, and there is a good understanding of what consequences, hurricanes and strong storms can cause. This is one of the reasons why large parts of the Danish electricity grid have been dug into the ground.
The 3.-4. December 1999, the largest hurricane so far recorded hit Denmark, and with the exception of North Jutland, the gusts reached 40-50 m/s in most parts of the country. Seven people died, more than 800 got injured and material damage is estimated at a total of 13 billion kroner. Nearly four million cubic meters of wood were lost in storms, and about 400,000 households were without power.
Every 10th homeowner in Denmark has had a storm damage within the last five years.
In Denmark, mandatory military draft has more or less existed since the times of the vikings. In 1849 a national tombola system was introduced, which is by and large still in place today. Men are drafted when they turn 18, women can volunteer. There's drafting sessions every day, all year round. Many drafted young people choose to serve in the Danish Emergency Management Agency.
THREAT #11: FLOODS FROM THE SEA
Denmark is on average 31 meters above sea level, and has approximately 7,300 km of coastline. Floods from the sea occur when the sea level rises so much that urban and rural areas are flooded.
Strong winds can push large amounts of seawater inland and create storm surges, which are most often seen by the North Sea and the Wadden Sea.
In the inland waters, marshlands and fjord areas, the wind can push the water at the surface, thus pushing the water masses inland.
Storm surges strike almost annually.
The oldest dikes in Southern Jutland date back to the First World War, when Russian warprisoners dug dikes.
THREAT #12: CYBER INCIDENTS
Cyber incidents can be divided into cyber attacks and technical errors. Every day there are cyber attacks and system errors in Denmark.
In the summer of 2010, the computer worm Stuxnet set new standards for how devastating a cyber attack could be. The worm infected thousands of computers at an industrial plant in Iran, where it both stole information and damaged the Iranian nuclear program. The worm penetrated Iran's Natanz complex, which houses about 5,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium. The worm was specially designed to overload the centrifuges by changing their rotational speed, which reportedly resulted in several hundred centrifuges collapsing.
The world is increasingly dependent on physical and software-based IT components, and this increases the risk that cyber incidents may pose a risk at the national level. This also includes the development of connecting electronic everyday components to the Internet, also called the Internet of Things. The cyber threat is thus imminently real, but diffuse in its physical manifestation.
During a terror drill in northern Denmark, the national bomb squad are rehearsing how to neutralise a car bomb. To set of the bomb, a person in an armoured suit has to place a tricker, that a robot then will set of. However, after putting on the suit, the bomb squad realised they still had to drive the armoured person 500m to the car bomb. This day, they decided to use the way-to-small volkswagen for the transport. Terror drills have become a vital part of the danish defencesystem in recent times.
THREAT #13: TERRORIST ACTS
There are people who have the intention and capacity to commit terrorist attacks in Denmark. Nevertheless, the probability of falling victim to a terrorist attack in Denmark is limited.
The terrorist threat is predominantly considered to come from people with sympathy for militant Islamism.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of terrorist attacks and attempts against the West. Most have been simple attacks, carried out by individuals or small groups. The attacks on the Krudttønden cultural center in Østerbro in Copenhagen and the Jewish synagogue in Copenhagen on 14 and 15 February 2015 are examples of this type of attack.
Regardless of the consequences, terrorist acts are often followed by a significantly increased level of preparedness, which can be difficult to downgrade later. Maintaining a high level of terrorist preparedness is associated with high economic costs to society. Both physical safety installations, drills and special safety procedures all contribute to this.
The only major coordinated bombing that has taken place in Denmark to date was carried out on 22 July 1985 in central Copenhagen. First, a bomb was detonated at the American airline Northwest Orient Airlines' office on Vester Farimagsgade. A few minutes later, another bomb exploded at the Mosaic Faith Society's synagogue in Krystalgade. A third bomb, which was found in Nyhavn, was probably intended for the office of the Israeli airline El Al. In Vester Farimagsgade, a few people were injured, and one died a few days later from his injuries. In Krystalgade, 27 people were injured. A Shia Muslim terrorist organization claimed responsibility, and in 1989 three Palestinians were sentenced to life in prison.