Floods and health
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
Climate change can increase the severity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as heavy precipitation, storms, and storm surges. Floods caused by these events can affect people immediately (e.g. through drowning and injuries), but also a long time after the event (e.g. through the destruction of homes, water shortages, displacement, disruption of essential services and financial loss) and especially through the stress flood victims are exposed to.
- IPCC (2012) Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (C. B. Field, V. Barros, T. F. Stocker and D. Qin, eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Number of people affected by flooding per million population in the WHO European Region
- People per million population
Policy context and targets
In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The White Paper stresses the need to improve the knowledge base and to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. The European Commission will be publishing an EU Adaptation Strategy in 2013. A number of Member States have already taken action, and several have prepared national adaptation plans.
The European Commission and the European Environment Agency have developed the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT, http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/) to share knowledge on observed and projected climate change and its impacts on environmental and social systems and on human health; on relevant research; on EU, national and subnational adaptation strategies and plans; and on adaptation case studies.
No targets have been specified.
Related policy documents
Climate-ADAPT: Mainstreaming adaptation in EU sector policies
Overview of EU sector policies in which mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change is ongoing or explored
Climate-ADAPT: National adaptation strategies
Overview of activities of EEA member countries in preparing, developing and implementing adaptation strategies
DG Climate Action: What is the EU doing about climate change?
Activities of the EU regarding climate change (both mitigation and adaptation)
White paper - Adapting to climate change: towards a European framework for action
EU framework for adaptation to climate change, leading to a comprehensive EU adaptation strategy by 2013
Key policy question
What are health effects of floods across Europe, and how are they changing?
Methodology for indicator calculation
‘People affected’, as defined in EM-DAT database, are people who require immediate assistance during a period of emergency, including displaced or evacuated people.
Methodology for gap filling
- WHO and HPA (Forthcoming) Floods: Health effects and prevention in the WHO European Region. World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe; Health Protection Agency, UK.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
Attribution of health effects to climate change is difficult due to the complexity of interactions, and potentially modifying effects of a range of other factors (such as land use changes, public health preparedness, and socio-economic conditions). Criteria for defining a climate-sensitive health impact are not always well identified and their detection sometimes relies on complex statistical or modelling studies (e.g. health impacts of heat waves). Furthermore, these criteria as well as the completeness and reliability of observations may differ between regions and/or institutions, and they may change over time. Data availability and quality is crucial in climate change and human health assessments, both for longer term changes in climate-sensitive health outcomes, and for health impacts of extreme events. The monitoring of climate-sensitive health effects is currently fragmentary and heterogeneous. All these factors make it difficult to identify significant trends in climate-sensitive health outcomes over time, and to compare them across regions. In the absence of reliable time series, more complex approaches are often used to assess the past, current or future impacts of climate change on human health.
Further information on uncertainties is provided in Section 1.7 of the EEA report on Climate change, impacts, and vulnerability in Europe 2012 (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/climate-impacts-and-vulnerability-2012/)
No uncertainty has been specified
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoHans-Martin Füssel
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A – What is happening to the environment and to humans?)