Losses from extreme floods in Europe could more than double by 2050, because of climate change and socioeconomic development. Understanding the risk posed by large-scale floods is of growing importance and will be key for managing climate adaptation.
Current flood losses in Europe are likely to double by 2050, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change by researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Institute for Environmental Studies in Amsterdam, and other European research centers.
Socioeconomic growth accounts for about two-thirds of the increased risk, as development leads to more buildings and infrastructure that could be damaged in a flood. The other third of the increase comes from climate change, which is projected to change rainfall patterns in Europe.
"In this study we brought together expertise from the fields of hydrology, economics, mathematics and climate change adaptation, allowing us for the first time to comprehensively assess continental flood risk and compare the different adaptation options," says Brenden Jongman of the Institute for Environmental Studies in Amsterdam, who coordinated the study.
The study estimated that floods in the European Union averaged €4.9 billion a year from 2000 to 2012. These average losses could increase to €23.5 billion by 2050. In addition, large events such as the 2013 European floods are likely to increase in frequency from an average of once every 16 years to a probability of once every 10 years by 2050.
The analysis combined models of climate change and socioeconomic development to build a better estimate of flood risk for the region. IIASA researcher Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler led the modeling work on the study.
He says, "The new study for the first time accounts for the correlation between floods in different countries. Current risk-assessment models assume that each river basin is independent. But in actuality, river flows across Europe are closely correlated, rising and falling in response to large-scale atmospheric patterns that bring rains and dry spells to large regions."
"If the rivers are flooding in Central Europe, they are likely to also be flooding Eastern European regions," says Hochrainer-Stigler. "We need to be prepared for larger stress on risk financing mechanisms, such as the pan-European Solidarity Fund (EUSF), a financial tool for financing disaster recovery in the European Union."
For example, the analysis suggests that the EUSF must pay out funds simultaneously across many regions. This can cause unacceptable stresses to such risk financing mechanisms. Hochrainer-Stigler says, "We need to reconsider advance mechanisms to finance these risks if we want to be in the position to quickly and comprehensively pay for recovery."
IIASA researcher Reinhard Mechler, another study co-author, points out the larger implications arising from the analysis. He says, "There is scope for better managing flood risk through risk prevention, such as using moveable flood walls, risk financing and enhanced solidarity between countries. There is no one-size-fits all solution, and the risk management measures have very different efficiency, equity and acceptability implications. These need to be assessed and considered in broader consultation, for which the analysis provides a comprehensive basis."
Hochrainer-Stigler presented testimony based on this research at a recent public hearing on the EUSF with the European Commission (add link)
Jongman, B, S Hochrainer-Stigler, et. al. (2014). Increasing stress on disaster risk finance due to large floods. Nature Climate Change (letter). doi: 10.1038/nclimate2124
For more information please contact:
Risk Policy and Vulnerability
+43(0) 2236 807 517
Deputy Program Director
Risk Policy and Vulnerability
+43(0) 2236 807 313
IIASA Press Office
Tel: +43 2236 807 316
Mob: +43 676 83 807 316
IIASA is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policy makers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by scientific institutions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. http://www.iiasa.ac.at
Katherine Leitzell | EurekAlert!
Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute
Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine