Assessing river flood risk and adaptation in Europe—review of projections for the future

  • Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz
  • Nicola Lugeri
  • Rutger Dankers
  • Yukiko Hirabayashi
  • Petra Döll
  • Iwona Pińskwar
  • Tomasz Dysarz
  • Stefan Hochrainer
  • Piotr Matczak
Original Paper

Abstract

Flood damages have exhibited a rapid upward trend, both globally and in Europe, faster than population and economic growth. Hence, vigorous attempts of attribution of changes have been made. Flood risk and vulnerability tend to change over many areas, due to a range of climatic and nonclimatic impacts whose relative importance is site-specific. Flooding is a complex phenomenon and there are several generating mechanisms, among others intense and/or long-lasting precipitation, snowmelt, ice jam. Projected climate-driven changes in future flood frequency are complex, depending on the generating mechanism, e.g., increasing flood magnitudes where floods result of heavy rainfall and possibly decreasing magnitudes where floods are generated by spring snowmelt. Climate change is likely to cause an increase of the risk of riverine flooding across much of Europe. Projections of flood hazard in Europe based on climatic and hydrological models, reviewed in this paper, illustrate possible changes of recurrence of a 100-year flood (with probability of exceedance being 1-in-100 years) in Europe. What used to be a 100-year flood in the control period is projected to become either more frequent or less frequent in the future time horizon of concern. For a large part of the continent, large flooding is projected to become more commonplace in future, warmer climate. Due to the large uncertainty of climate projections, it is currently not possible to devise a scientifically-sound procedure for redefining design floods (e.g. 100-year flood) in order to adjust flood defenses. For the time being, we recommend to adjust design floods using a “climate change factor” approach.

Keywords

Floods Adaptation Risk Vulnerability Climate projections Climate change impacts 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nicola Lugeri
    • 3
  • Rutger Dankers
    • 3
  • Yukiko Hirabayashi
    • 4
  • Petra Döll
    • 5
  • Iwona Pińskwar
    • 1
  • Tomasz Dysarz
    • 1
    • 6
  • Stefan Hochrainer
    • 7
  • Piotr Matczak
    • 1
    • 8
  1. 1.Institute for Agricultural and Forest EnvironmentPolish Academy of SciencesPoznańPoland
  2. 2.Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany
  3. 3.Joint Research CentreIspraItaly
  4. 4.Institute of Engineering InnovationThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  5. 5.Institute of Physical GeographyUniversity of Frankfurt/M.Frankfurt am MainGermany
  6. 6.University of Life SciencesPoznańPoland
  7. 7.IIASALaxenburgAustria
  8. 8.Institute of SociologyAdam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznańPoland
  9. 9.Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA)RomeItaly
  10. 10.Met Office, Hadley Centre, ExeterDevonUK

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