Climate change: Costs of flooding will skyrocket in ‘staggering’ new climate change warning | Science | News


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Climate change has already had many visible effects on our planet. Glaciers have shrunk and continue to shrink, trees are flowering earlier in the year, and the world is experiencing more and more extreme weather events. Several European countries were hit by severe flooding last summer, causing widespread damage and at least 242 deaths.

The 2021 floods in Germany were the country’s deadliest natural disaster since the North Sea flooded in 1962, when more than 15,000 police, soldiers and rescue workers were deployed to help in the rescue operation .

New research predicts that the financial toll of floods could increase by more than a quarter in the United States by 2050.

The study led by the University of Bristol, published Monday in Natural climate changeused advanced modeling techniques to perform the relevant calculations.

They predicted that average annual flood-related losses would increase by 26.4% in less than 30 years, from $32bn (£23.8bn) to around $40.6bn (£30.2bn). billion pounds sterling) in 2050.

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Germany was devastated by severe flash floods last summer. (Image: GETTY)

US flood risk

Map showing the distribution of US flood risk (average annual loss) by county and projected changes. (Image: Fathom)

The team used nationwide real estate asset data and detailed flood protections to develop a comprehensive assessment of the flood risk facing the United States.

Estimates, which include commercial damage, were based on 2021 dollar values.

Taking inflation into account, the actual numbers could be significantly higher.

Dr Oliver Wing, lead author of the study, said: “Climate change combined with population displacement presents a double whammy in terms of flood hazard and the financial implications are staggering.

Miami storm surge simulation

A 500-year-old design storm surge simulation in Miami, (Image: Fathom)

“Typical risk models rely on historical data that do not capture predicted climate changes or provide sufficient detail.

“Our sophisticated techniques using state-of-the-art flooding models provide a much more accurate picture of future land cover and how populations will be affected.”

The study found that while the poorest communities with a proportionately larger white population are currently the most at risk, that is about to change.

Future growth in flood risk is expected to have a greater impact on African American communities living on both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

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Kansas City Flood Simulation

A 100 year design river flood simulation in Kansas City. (Image: Fathom)

Dr Wing added: “The mapping clearly indicates that black communities will be disproportionately affected in a warming world, in addition to the poorer white communities who primarily bear the historic risk.”

Dr Wing said the new findings are “concerning”.

He said: “The research is a call to action for adaptation and mitigation work to be scaled up to reduce the devastating financial impact of floods on people’s lives.”

Last year was a particularly catastrophic year for weather and climate disasters in the US, with 200 separate events costing at least $1bn (£740m) in damage, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration earlier this month.

National flood risk simulation.

The simulation at the national scale of the flood of centennial conception of fluvial, pluvial and coastal origin. (Image: Fathom)

The 20 events are the second highest total on record, broken only in 2020 with a record 22 events.

The floods alone have caused massive devastation across the United States. Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee were among the hardest hit regions.

According to an AccuWeather report from May last year, the city of Alabaster recorded 7.03 inches (178.6 mm) of precipitation in one day – more than Californian cities such as Los Angeles had seen in the previous year.

According to the Nature Climate Change report, global warming intensifies the hydrological cycle.

This makes extreme rainfall, and potentially inland flooding as well, more severe.

Similarly, rising temperatures that lead to loss of ice mass lead to rising sea levels. Coastal flooding can therefore be exacerbated by low pressures and high winds from storms, the frequency and severity of which are also expected to increase. to augment.

Professor Paul Bates, one of Britain’s leading flood experts, said: “The current flood risk in Western society is already unacceptably high, but climate and demographic change threaten to inflate these losses dramatically. significant.

“The relatively short time frames over which this increase will take place means that we cannot rely on decarbonisation to reduce risk, so we need to adapt better, both to the current situation and in the future.”


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