Flood risk in Europe could double by 2050

Last Updated: Monday, March 3, 2014 - 18:17

London: Losses from extreme floods in Europe could more than double by 2050, because of climate change and socio-economic development, a new study has warned.

Socio-economic 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, researchers said.

The other third of the increase comes from climate change, which is projected to change rainfall patterns in Europe.

Current flood losses in Europe are likely to double by 2050, according to researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Institute for Environmental Studies in Amsterdam, and other European research centres.
"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," said 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 Euros a year from 2000 to 2012. These average losses could increase to 23.5 billion Euros 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 - development to build a better estimate of flood risk for the region.
"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," said IIASA researcher Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler, who led the modelling work on the study.

"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," he said.

The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

First Published: Monday, March 3, 2014 - 18:17
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