Europe-wide flood losses to 'increase four fold' by 2050
Flood damage losses across Europe are expected to increase four fold by 2050. The scientists believe that the continent's annual flood costs may be 23.5bn euros by the middle of the century. Two-thirds of the projected increase in flood damage will be caused by human development, not climate change. The study has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
One of the big problems for European flood disaster research has been that countries tend to do their risk assessments on their own, using different models and methodologies compared with their neighbours.
"This is not an accurate way of working," said lead author Brenden Jongman from VU University in Amsterdam.
"We show that if you have very high flood risk in the UK there is also a very high risk in northern France, the Netherlands and some parts of Germany."
Rather than looking at individual flood risks, the team decided to look at maximum water discharges in over 1,000 European river sub-basins, or parts of catchments.They found that different rivers often reach dangerous levels at the same time, threatening large regions.
"If you don't take into account these spatial co-relations then you highly underestimate the risk - there is a much higher risk than we actually think so far," said Mr Jongman.