Trends in European flood risk over the past 150 years

Dominik Paprotny, Antonia Sebastian, Oswaldo Morales-Nápoles, Sebastiaan N. Jonkman

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Received: 31st October 17

Flood risk changes in time and is influenced by both natural and socio-economic trends and interactions. In Europe, previous studies of historical flood losses corrected for demographic and economic growth (‘normalized’) have been limited in temporal and spatial extent, leading to an incomplete representation in trends of losses over time. In this study we utilize a gridded reconstruction of flood exposure in 37 European countries and a new database of damaging floods since 1870. Our results indicate that since 1870 there has been an increase in annually inundated area and number of persons affected, contrasted by a substantial decrease in flood fatalities, after correcting for change in flood exposure. For more recent decades we also found a considerable decline in financial losses per year. We estimate, however, that there is large underreporting of smaller floods beyond most recent years, and show that underreporting has a substantial impact on observed trends.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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