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Climatic Change

, Volume 134, Issue 3, pp 441–455 | Cite as

Modelling the influences of climate change-associated sea-level rise and socioeconomic development on future storm surge mortality

  • Simon J. Lloyd
  • R. Sari KovatsEmail author
  • Zaid Chalabi
  • Sally Brown
  • Robert J. Nicholls
Article

Abstract

Climate change is expected to affect health through changes in exposure to weather disasters. Vulnerability to coastal flooding has decreased in recent decades but remains disproportionately high in low-income countries. We developed a new statistical model for estimating future storm surge-attributable mortality. The model accounts for sea-level rise and socioeconomic change, and allows for an initial increase in risk as low-income countries develop. We used observed disaster mortality data to fit the model, splitting the dataset to allow the use of a longer time-series of high intensity, high mortality but infrequent events. The model could not be validated due to a lack of data. However, model fit suggests it may make reasonable estimates of log mortality risk but that mortality estimates are unreliable. We made future projections with and without climate change (A1B) and sea-based adaptation, but given the lack of model validation we interpret the results qualitatively. In low-income countries, risk initially increases with development up to mid-century before decreasing. If implemented, sea-based adaptation reduces climate-associated mortality in some regions, but in others mortality remains high. These patterns reinforce the importance of implementing disaster risk reduction strategies now. Further, while average mortality changes discontinuously over time, vulnerability and risk are evolving conditions of everyday life shaped by socioeconomic processes. Given this, and the apparent importance of socioeconomic factors that condition risk in our projections, we suggest future models should focus on estimating risk rather than mortality. This would strengthen the knowledge base for averting future storm surge-attributable health impacts.

Keywords

Cyclone Gross Domestic Product Mortality Risk Human Development Index Coastal Flood 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Abbreviations

DIVA

Dynamic Interactive Vulnerability Assessment

EM-DAT

Emergency Events Database

GCM

General Circulation Model

GDP

Gross Domestic Product

HDI

Human Development Index

LHS

Left-hand side

RHS

Right-hand side

SLR

Sea-level rise

UN

United Nations

UNDP

United Nations Development Programme

WPP

World Population Prospects

Notes

Acknowledgments

This project was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council under the QUEST (Quantifying and Understanding the Earth System) project: contract numbers NE/E001874/1 and NE/E001882/1. For the sea level rise projections, we thank the international modelling groups for providing their data for analysis, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) for collecting and archiving the model data, the JSC/CLIVAR Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) and their Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) and Climate Simulation Panel for organising the model data analysis activity, and the IPCC WG1 TSU for technical support. The IPCC Data Archive at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science, US Department of Energy. For the flood disaster data, we thank EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database at the Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium (www.emdat.be).

Supplementary material

10584_2015_1376_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (804 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 803 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon J. Lloyd
    • 1
  • R. Sari Kovats
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zaid Chalabi
    • 1
  • Sally Brown
    • 2
  • Robert J. Nicholls
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Social and Environmental Health ResearchLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Engineering and the Environment and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change ResearchUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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