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National-scale Assessment of Current and Future Flood Risk in England and Wales


In recent years, through the availability of remotely sensed data and other national datasets, it has become possible to conduct national-scale flood risk assessment in England and Wales. The results of this type of risk analysis can be used to inform policy-making and prioritisation of resources for flood management. It can form the starting point for more detailed strategic and local-scale flood risk assessments. The national-scale risk assessment methodology outlined in this paper makes use of information on the location, standard of protection and condition of flood defences in England and Wales, together with datasets of floodplain extent, topography, occupancy and asset values. The flood risk assessment was applied to all of England and Wales in 2002 at which point the expected annual damage from flooding was estimated to be approximately £1 billion. This figure is comparable with records of recent flood damage. The methodology has subsequently been applied to examine the effects of climate and socio-economic change 50 and 80 years in the future. The analysis predicts increasing flood risk unless current flood management policies, practices and investment levels are changed – up to 20-fold increase in real terms economic risk by the 2080s in the scenario with highest economic growth. The increase is attributable primarily to a combination of climate change (in particular sea level rise and increasing precipitation in parts of the UK) and increasing economic vulnerability.

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Correspondence to Jim W. Hall.

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Hall, J.W., Sayers, P.B. & Dawson, R.J. National-scale Assessment of Current and Future Flood Risk in England and Wales. Nat Hazards 36, 147–164 (2005).

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