Normalised losses from river flood disasters
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
There is good reason to be concerned about the growth of flood losses in Europe even without taking climate change into account. Economic losses from flood disasters in Europe increased from the 1970s to the 2000s (Barredo, 2007). In addition to the rising trend in flood damage, the effects of unusually severe floods during the 1990s and 2000s increased awareness of the economic consequences of flooding. The 1997 floods in Poland and Czech Republic were responsible for losses of about EUR 5.2 billion. In 2000, Italy, France and Switzerland experienced losses of EUR 9.2 billion. In 2002 the material flood damage of EUR 17.4 billion recorded in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria was higher than in any single previous year (Kundzewicz et al., 2005). And the cost of floods in the United Kingdom in summer 2007 has been estimated at around EUR 4.3 billion.
There is no clear evidence of a climate-related trend for floods during recent decades in Europe (Mudelsee et al., 2003; Kundzewicz, 2005). Even if there is scientific evidence of a continuing intensification of the global water cycle (Huntington, 2006) there is no homogeneous trend in extreme river flows on the European or regional scale. Analyses of long-term records of flood losses indicate that societal and economic factors have played an important role in the observed upward trends (Pielke Jr and Downton, 2000; Mills, 2005; Barredo, 2007).
- References ABI, 2005. Financial risks of climate change -- summary report. http://www.abi.org.uk/Display/File/Child/552/Financial_Risks_of_Climate_Change.pdf . Barredo, J. I., 2007. Major flood disasters in Europe: 1950-2005. Natural Hazards 42: 125-148. Hall, J. W., Sayers, P. B. and Dawson, R. J., 2005. National-scale Assessment of Current and Future Flood Risk in England and Wales. Natural Hazards 36: 147-164. Höppe, P.; Pielke Jr., R. A. (eds.), 2006. Climate Change and Disaster Losses: Understanding and Attributing Trends and Projections, Report of a workshop, Hohenkammer, Germany, 25 to 26 May 2006 (University of Colorado, Boulder and Munich Re, Munich, 2006); http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/sparc/research/projects/extreme_events/munich_workshop/ . Huntington, T. G., 2006. Evidence for intensification of the global water cycle: Review and synthesis. Journal of Hydrology 319: 83-95. Kundzewicz, Z. W.; Ulbrich, U.; Brücher, T.; Graczyk, D.; Krüger, A.; Leckebusch, G. C.; Menzel, L.; Pińskwar, I.; Radziejewski, M. and Szwed, M., 2005. Summer Floods in Central Europe -- Climate Change Track? Natural Hazards 36: 165-189. Mills, E., 2005. Insurance in a Climate of Change. Science 309: 1040-1044. Mudelsee, M.; Borngen, M.; Tetzlaff, G. and Grunewald, U., 2003. No upward trends in the occurrence of extreme floods in central Europe. Nature 425: 166-169. Muir Wood, R.; Miller, S. and Boissonnade, A., 2006. The search for trends in a global catalogue of normalized weather-related catastrophe losses. In Workshop on Climate Change and Disaster Losses -- Understanding and Attributing Trends and Projections, P. Höppe and R. A. Pielke, Jr. (eds.). Hohenkammer, Germany, 188-194. Pielke Jr., R. A., 2007. Future economic damage from tropical cyclones: sensitivities to societal and climate changes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 365: 1-13. Pielke Jr., R. A. and Downton, M. W., 2000. Precipitation and Damaging Floods: Trends in the United States, 1932-97. Journal of Climate 13: 3625-3637. WL Delft Hydraulics, 2007. Overstromingsrisico's in Nederland in een veranderend klimaat (Flood risks in the Netherlands under climate change). Report Q4290.00, WL Delft Hydraulics Delft, the Netherlands.
- Flood losses per thousand of GDP in the EU 1970-2005
- Number of casualties caused by flood disasters in the EU 1970-2005
- Projected change in damage of river floods with a 100-year return period between 2071-2100 and 1961-1990
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 aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/index_en.htm
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
No related policy documents have been specified
Key policy question
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
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?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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