Water Resources Management

, Volume 24, Issue 11, pp 2633–2646 | Cite as

River Floods in the Changing Climate—Observations and Projections

  • Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz
  • Yukiko Hirabayashi
  • Shinjiro Kanae


River flood damages, worldwide, have increased dynamically in the last few decades, so that it is necessary to interpret this change. River flooding is a complex phenomenon which can be affected by changes coupled to terrestrial, socio-economic and climate systems. The climate track in the observed changes is likely, even if human encroaching into the harm’s way and increase in the damage potential in floodplains can be the dominating factors in many river basins. Increase in intense precipitation has already been observed, with consequences to increasing risk of rain-induced flooding. Projections for the future, based on climate model simulations, indicate increase of flood risks in many areas, globally. Over large areas, a 100-year flood in the control period is projected to become much more frequent in the future time horizon. Despite the fact that the degree of uncertainty in model-based projections is considerable and difficult to quantify, the change in design flood frequency has obvious relevance to flood risk management practice. The number of flood-affected people is projected to increase with the amount of warming. For a 4°C warming the number of flood-affected people is over 2.5 times higher than for a 2°C warming. The present contribution addresses the climate track in an integrated way, tackling issues related to multiple factors, change detection, projections, and adaptation to floods.


River flooding Climate change Intense precipitation Flood risk Flood protection Flood preparedness Adaptation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yukiko Hirabayashi
    • 3
  • Shinjiro Kanae
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Agricultural and Forest EnvironmentPolish Academy of SciencesPoznanPoland
  2. 2.Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Engineering InnovationThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Department of Mechanical and Environmental InformaticsTokyo Institute of TechnologyTokyoJapan

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