An assessment of the potential impact of climate change on flood risk in Mumbai

Abstract

Managing risks from extreme events will be a crucial component of climate change adaptation. In this study, we demonstrate an approach to assess future risks and quantify the benefits of adaptation options at a city-scale, with application to flood risk in Mumbai. In 2005, Mumbai experienced unprecedented flooding, causing direct economic damages estimated at almost two billion USD and 500 fatalities. Our findings suggest that by the 2080s, in a SRES A2 scenario, an ‘upper bound’ climate scenario could see the likelihood of a 2005-like event more than double. We estimate that total losses (direct plus indirect) associated with a 1-in-100 year event could triple compared with current situation (to $690–$1,890 million USD), due to climate change alone. Continued rapid urbanisation could further increase the risk level. The analysis also demonstrates that adaptation could significantly reduce future losses; for example, estimates suggest that by improving the drainage system in Mumbai, losses associated with a 1-in-100 year flood event today could be reduced by as much as 70%.,We show that assessing the indirect costs of extreme events is an important component of an adaptation assessment, both in ensuring the analysis captures the full economic benefits of adaptation and also identifying options that can help to manage indirect risks of disasters. For example, we show that by extending insurance to 100% penetration, the indirect effects of flooding could be almost halved. We conclude that, while this study explores only the upper-bound climate scenario, the risk-assessment core demonstrated in this study could form an important quantitative tool in developing city-scale adaptation strategies. We provide a discussion of sources of uncertainty and risk-based tools could be linked with decision-making approaches to inform adaptation plans that are robust to climate change.

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Correspondence to Nicola Ranger.

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Ranger, N., Hallegatte, S., Bhattacharya, S. et al. An assessment of the potential impact of climate change on flood risk in Mumbai. Climatic Change 104, 139–167 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-010-9979-2

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Keywords

  • Return Period
  • Flood Risk
  • Shuttle Radar Topography Mission
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • Direct Loss