Climatic Change

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 513–535 | Cite as

Vulnerability of the Netherlands and Northwest Europe to Storm Damage under Climate Change

  • C. Dorland
  • R. S. J. Tol
  • J. P. Palutikof


Storms occasionally bring havoc to Northwest Europe. At present, a single storm may cause damage of up to 7 billion U.S.$, of which a substantial part is insured. One scenario of climate change indicates that storm intensity in Northwest Europe could increase by 1–9% because of the doubling of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. A geographic-explicit, statistical model, based on recent storms and storm damage data for the Netherlands, shows that an increase of 2% in wind intensity by the year 2015 could lead to a 50% increase in storm damage to houses and businesses. Only 20% of the increase is due to population and economic growth. A 6% increase could even triple the damage. A simpler model – based on national average data and combined with a stochastic storm generator – shows that the average annual damage could increase by 80% with a 2% increase in wind intensity. A 6% wind intensity increase could lead to an average annual damage increase of 500%. The damage in Northwest Europe is about a factor 6 higher than the damage in the Netherlands. Little potential seems to exist for reducing the vulnerability to storms in the Netherlands. More attention should be given to planning at the government level for disaster relief and to the development of coping strategies.


Climate Change Europe Coping Strategy Intensity Increase Substantial Part 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ashcroft, J.: 1994, ‘The Relationship between the Gust Ratio, Terrain Roughness, Gust Duration and the Hourly Mean Wind Speed’, J. Wind Engineer. Indust. Aerodynam. 53, 331-355.Google Scholar
  2. Beersma, J. J., Rider, K. M., Komen, G. J., Kaas, E., and Kharin, V. V.: 1997, ‘An Analysis of Extra-Tropical Storms in the North Atlantic Region as Simulated in a Control and 2 × CO2 Time-Slice Experiment with a High-Resolution Atmospheric Model’, Tellus Ser. A 49, 347-361.Google Scholar
  3. Berz, G. and Conrad, K.: 1993, ‘Winds of Change’, The Review, June, 32-35.Google Scholar
  4. Bosschap: 1993, Handling Calamities in Dutch Forests (in Dutch: Draaiboek Calamiteiten in Nederlandse Bossen), Bosschap, Den Haag.Google Scholar
  5. BRE: 1991, The Gales of January and February 1990: Damage to Buildings and Structures, BRE Report, Building Research Establishment, Garston.Google Scholar
  6. Carnell, R. E., Senior, C. A., and Mitchell, J. F. B.: 1996, ‘An Assessment of Measures of Storminess: Simulated Changes in Northern Hemisphere Winter Due To Increasing CO2’, Clim. Dyn. 12, 467-476.Google Scholar
  7. Christofides, S., Barlow, C., Michaelides, N., and Miranthis, C.: 1992, Storm Rating in the Nineties, General Insurance Convention, Bournemouth.Google Scholar
  8. Clark, K.: 1986, ‘A Formal Approach to Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Management’, in Casualty Actuarial Society, Vol. LXXII, Part 2, No. 140, Proceedings, pp. 69-92.Google Scholar
  9. Clark, K.: 1991, PC Calculates Cat Exposure Odds, National Underwriter, February 18, 1991, Applied Insurance Research, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  10. Climate Change Impacts Review Group: 1996, Review of the Potential Effects of Climate Change in the United Kingdom, Second Report, Section 2, Changing Climate and Sea Level, HMSO, London, pp. 3-35.Google Scholar
  11. Cook, N. J.: 1985, The Designer's Guide to Wind Loading of Building Structures, Butterworths, London.Google Scholar
  12. COT: 1990, Alert 3, March.Google Scholar
  13. CPB: 1992, Scanning the Future; A Long Term Scenario Study of the World Economy 1990–2015, Sdu Publishers, The Hague.Google Scholar
  14. Deacon, E. L.: 1955, ‘Gust Variation with Height Up To 150 m’, Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 81, 562-573.Google Scholar
  15. Dlugolecki, A. F.: 1992, ‘Insurance Implications of Climate Change’, Geneva Papers Risk Insurance 17(64) (July), 393-405.Google Scholar
  16. Dlugolecki, A. F., Clark, K.M., Knecht, F., McCauley, D., Palutikof, J. P., and Yambi, W.: 1996, Financial Services, Chapter B9, in Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change Second Assessment Report Working Group II Impacts of Climate Change, pp. 539-560.Google Scholar
  17. Dorland, C. and Tol, R. S. J.: 1995, Storm Damage in the Netherlands — Modelling and Scenario Analysis, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) W-95/20, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  18. Dorland, C., Tol, R. S. J., Olsthoorn, A. A., and Palutikof, J. P.: 1999, ‘Impacts of Windstorms in the Netherlands: Present Risk and Prospects for Climate Change’, Chapter 10 in Downing, T., Olsthoorn, A. A., and Tol, R. S. J. (eds.), Climate, Change and Risk, Routledge, London, New York, pp. 245-278.Google Scholar
  19. Hall, N. M. J., Hoskins, B. J., Valdes, P., and Senior, C. A.: 1994, ‘Storm Tracks in a High Resolution GCM with Doubling CO2’, Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 120, 1179-1207.Google Scholar
  20. Hulme, M. and Jones, P. D.: 1991, ‘Temperatures and Windiness over the U.K. during the Winters of 1988/1989 and 1989/1990 Compared To Previous Years’, Weather 46, 126-135.Google Scholar
  21. Isemer, H. J.: 1992, ‘Comparison of Estimates and Measured Marine Surface Wind Speeds’, in Diaz, H. F., Wolter, K., and Woodruff, S. D. (eds.), Proceedings of the International COADS Workshop, Boulder, CO, 13–25 January 1992, U.S. Department of Commerce, Boulder, CO, pp. 143-158.Google Scholar
  22. Kaas, E., Li, T.-S., and Schmidt, T.: 1996, ‘Statistical Hindcast of Wind Climatology in the North Atlantic and Northwestern European Region’, Clim. Res. 7, 97-110.Google Scholar
  23. Katz, R. W. and Brown, B. G.: 1992, ‘Extreme Events in a Changing Climate: Variability Is More Important than Averages’, Clim. Change 21, 289-302.Google Scholar
  24. Lamb, H. H.: 1991, Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 204.Google Scholar
  25. Lambert, S. J.: 1995, ‘The Effect of Enhanced Greenhouse Warming on Winter Cyclone Frequencies and Strengths’, J. Clim. 8, 1447-1452.Google Scholar
  26. Lambert, S. J.: 1996, ‘Intense Extratropical Northern Hemisphere Winter Cyclone Events: 1899–1991’, J. Geophys. Res. D101, 21319-21325.Google Scholar
  27. Mitchell, J., Devine, N., and Jagger, K.: 1989, ‘A Contextual Model of Natural Hazard’, Geog. Rev. 17(4), 391-409.Google Scholar
  28. Muir-Wood, R.: 1996, In the Eye of the Storm, Reinsurance, Technical Report: Windstorms, Risk Management Solutions, Ltd., London, pp. 17-23.Google Scholar
  29. Munich Re: 1993, Winter Storms in Europe, Analysis of 1990 Losses and Future Loss Potential, Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft, Report Nr. 2042-E-e, München.Google Scholar
  30. Murphy, J.M.: 1992, A Prediction of the Transient Response of Climate, Climate Research Technical Note 32, Hadley Centre, Meteorological Office, Bracknell, p. 27.Google Scholar
  31. NEN 6702: 1993, Loading and Deformation, Technical Basis for Buildings 1990 (in Dutch: Belasting en Vervorming, Technische Grondslagen voor Bouwconstructies 1990), Nederlands Normalisatie Instituut, Delft.Google Scholar
  32. NS: 1990, Evaluation of the January 1990 Storm (in Dutch: Evaluatie van de Januari Storm in 1990), Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Dienst van Exploitatie, Utrecht.Google Scholar
  33. Palutikof, J. P., Guo, X., and Halliday, J. A.: 1992, ‘Climate Variability and the U.K. Wind Resource’, J. Wind Engineer. Indust. Aerodyn. 39, 243-249.Google Scholar
  34. Palutikof, J. P., Halliday, J. A., Guo, X., Barthelmie, R. J., and Hitch, T. J.: 1993, The Impact of Climate Variability on the U.K. Wind Resource, ETSU WN 6029-P1, Harwell.Google Scholar
  35. Palutikof, J. P. and Downing, T. E.: 1994, ‘European Wind Storms’, in Downing, T. E., Favis-Mortlock, D., and Gawith, M. (eds.), Climate Change and Extreme Events: Scenarios of Altered Hazards for Future Research, Environmental Change Unit, Research Report No. 7, University of Oxford, Oxford.Google Scholar
  36. Schinke, H.: 1993, ‘On the Occurrence of Deep Cyclones over Europe and the North Atlantic in the Period 1930–1991’, Beitr. Phys. Atmosph. 66, 223-237.Google Scholar
  37. Schmidt, H. and von Storch, H.: 1993, ‘German Bight Storms Analysed’, Nature 365, 791.Google Scholar
  38. Schmith, T., Kaas, E., and Li, T.-S.: 1998, ‘Northeast Atlantic Winter Storminess 1875–1995 Re-Analysed’, Clim. Dyn. 14, 529-536.Google Scholar
  39. Schraft, A., Durand, E., and Hausmann, P.: 1993, Storms over Europe: Losses and Scenarios, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Zürich.Google Scholar
  40. SPANS: 1993, SPANS — Geographic Information System, 6th Edition for OS2, INTRA TYDAC Technologies Inc., Ontario, September.Google Scholar
  41. Swiss Re: 1994, Sigma 2, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Zurich, p. 48.Google Scholar
  42. Swiss Re: 1993, Storms over Europe, Losses and Scenarios, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Zurich, p. 28.Google Scholar
  43. Tol, R. S. J.: 1996a, ‘A Systems View of Weather Disasters’, in Downing, T. E., Olsthoorn, A. A., and Tol, R. S. J. (eds.), Climate Change and Extreme Events, Institute for Environmental Studies R-96/4, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  44. Tol, R. S. J.: 1996b, ‘The Weather Insurance Sector’, in Downing, T. E., Olsthoorn, A. A., and Tol, R. S. J. (eds.), Climate Change and Extreme Events, Institute for Environmental Studies R-96/4, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  45. von Storch, H., Guddal, J., Iden, K. A., Jonsson, T. et al.: 1993, Changing Statistics of Storms in the North Atlantic? Report No. 116, Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Hamburg. Ward, M. N.: 1992, ‘Provisionally Corrected Surface Wind Data, World-Wide Ocean-Atmosphere Surface Fields, and Sahelian Rainfall Variability’, J. Clim. 5, 454–475.Google Scholar
  46. WASA group: 1998, ‘Changing Waves and Storms in the Northeast Atlantic’, Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc. 79, 741-760.Google Scholar
  47. Wieringa, J.: 1976, ‘An Objective Exposure Correction Method for Average Wind Speeds Measured at a Sheltered Location’, Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 102, 241-253.Google Scholar
  48. Wieringa, J.: 1990, Severe Storms on January 25 (in Dutch: Zware Stormen op 25 Januari 1990), Conference Report of the 5th National Windenergy Conference 1990, the Netherlands, organised by CEA and ECN, Lunteren, the Netherlands, pp. 4-7.Google Scholar
  49. Zhang, Y. and Wang, W.-C.: 1997, ‘Model-Simulated Northern Winter Cyclone and Anticyclone Activity under a Greenhouse Warming Scenario’, J. Clim. 10, 1616-1634.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Dorland
    • 1
  • R. S. J. Tol
    • 1
  • J. P. Palutikof
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)Vrije UniversiteitAmsterdamthe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations