FAQ + Glossary


The software assesses the natural hazards volcanism, earthquake, hail, flood, storm surge, tsunami and storm as well as heavy rain.

Vulnerability describes the sensitivity of a building to a natural hazard. For the same natural hazard event at the same location, two separate buildings can have different vulnerabilities resulting in different risks for these two buildings. K.A.R.L.® also distinguishes between different building types with specific vulnerability curves for each natural hazard.

K.A.R.L.® is a system of KA Koeln.Assekurranz Agentur GmbH (KA). KA is an underwriting agency and broker for industrial risks. Its offered services include risk management services such as K.A.R.L.® . The company is owned by ERGO Versicherung AG.

When classifying a property in the clusters specified by the vdp (Association of German Pfandbrief Banks), it must always be borne in mind that the aim is an approximate categorisation of the property in terms of its sensitivity. Any natural hazard modelling is always subject to a certain degree of uncertainty, which is why an exact classification of a property is not leading to the desired results.

In the short report (One Pager), you will find the risk figures for the investigated natural hazards for your commercial building at a glance. In addition to the key risk figures, the long report (ProReport) contains more detailed information per relevant natural hazard, explaining the general risk situation for your building.

The current prices for the K.A.R.L. analyses can be found after your login.


In moist, loosely packed soils and groundwater near the surface, vibrations, e.g. from earthquakes, can cause the ground to behave like a liquid and buildings to sink unevenly. A Google search with the terms "Christchurch" and "liquefaction" will lead you to a large number of examples of an earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2011 that clearly show this effect.

Probability that a natural event of a certain magnitude will occur within a certain period of time. The probability of occurrence is given as a percentage. In contrast, under the term "frequency", absolute numbers are given in four categories: - "frequent": every year to every 30 years-"medium": every 30 to 100 years-"rare": every 100 to 300 years-"very rare": less frequent than every 300 years

Evapotranspiration is the sum of evaporation and transpiration. In addition to the evaporation of water through soil and water surfaces, this sum also includes evaporation from animal and plant life.

K.A.R.L.® carries out part of the analyses on the basis of a global digital elevation model. These are measured values of the absolute height above sea level in metres, which were measured using satellites and RADAR technology. The value given represents the relevant altitude for the site according to K.A.R.L.® calculations. These values can never reach the accuracy of a value determined by "conventional" geodetic surveying (reference points on roads, official maps, etc.), but are available worldwide.

Focal depth is the distance of the earthquake focus (hypocentre) from the earth's surface. The point on the earth's surface directly above the hypocentre is called the epicentre.

The hypocentre is the source of an earthquake within the earth, also known as a quake focus or seismic source.

In geosciences, the probability of recurrence of natural events is also called annuity or frequency. It is measured in 1/a, or in units of time, in which case it is also referred to as a recurrence interval. The term is relevant for estimating extreme events.

Coordinates refer to a point on the earth's surface. Coordinates are used in the K.A.R.L.® model calculations because all data used in K.A.R.L.® are made available by way of raster files. These files are structured by coordinates - addresses are not listed there. The K.A.R.L.® software uses the coordinates with the decimal degree system. The coordinates of Cologne Cathedral are then: latitude: 50.941392; longitude: 6.957089. Often you see coordinates in nautical format. In this format, Cologne Cathedral has the following coordinates: latitude: 50°56'29.01 "N; longitude: 6°57'25.52 "E. In the decimal degree system, the assignment to north/south hemisphere or east/west longitude works is marked with a plus- or minus-sign: No sign (+) means north or east, a negative sign (-) means south or west. For example, the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil has these coordinates: latitude: -0.104658; longitude: -50.308558.

The morphological exposure describes how strongly a site is exposed to wind influences due to its location in the landscape (on a slope, in the lowlands, on or behind a hill, etc.).

The "One Pager" is a report form generated by the K.A.R.L. system. It is a compact one-page summary of the results of the modelling. This report form does not give any further explanations.

The probable maximum percentage damage that would be expected in the case of an event during the specified return period. The PML may well assume a very small value if the sensitivity (vulnerability) of a property is low and, in addition, the intensity of the acting natural hazard is low for the return period under consideration.

The risk in percent per year indicates the share of the total value that is statistically lost per year due to damage resulting from the natural hazard under consideration. It is a purely theoretical value that you will get when all conceivable losses from all conceivable natural events are averaged over a very long period of time.

A tsunami runup refers to the measured height of a past tsunami. By approximation, the height of a tsunami is determined by how far it has "run up" onto the mainland.

Volcanoes can be subdivided according to various aspects, such as their external shape or the place where they occur. Strato and somma volcanoes are initially characterised by their external appearance. The strato or layered volcano consists of individual layers of lava and loose ejecta masses and typically forms a steep pointed conical shape. Prominent examples are Fujisan, Mount St. Helens or Pinatubo. The somma volcano is a close relative, as it is a volcanic cone formed in the centre of a caldera (a funnel formed by an explosive eruption or the collapse of a magma chamber). Both types are characterised by the possibility of particularly explosive eruptions.

Sensitivity of a building to natural hazards. See PDF file after login !

The return period is a statistical parameter used to describe a period of time (50 years, 100 years, etc.) within which a natural event of a certain intensity occurs once on average. "Statistical measure" means in particular that the events mentioned may well occur at any intervals, but are nevertheless statistically subject to a certain ERP. As an example, 100-year floods would be listed here, which occur in consecutive years and are nevertheless classified as 100-year events.