London, March 3: Climate change and socio-economic growth could increase the damage by floods in Europe by 2050, according to a new study.
According to researchers from several European research centres, losses due to floods in the European Union averaged 4.9 billion pounds (approximately Rs.418 billion) a year from 2000-12.
These average losses could increase to 23.5 billion pounds (approximately Rs.2,000 billion) by 2050.
In addition, large-scale disasters such as the 2013 European floods are likely to increase in frequency from an average of once in every 16 years to a probability of once in every 10 years by 2050.
As development leads to more infrastructure that could be damaged in a flood, socio-economic growth would account for about two-thirds of the increased risk, it said.
“The other third of the increase comes from climate change, which is projected to change rainfall patterns in Europe,” the study said.
“We brought together expertise from the fields of hydrology, economics, mathematics and climate change adaptation, allowing us for the first time to comprehensively assess continental flood risk and compare the different adaptation options,” said Brenden Jongman of the Institute for Environmental Studies in Amsterdam, Netherlands, who coordinated the study.
The analysis combined models of climate change and socio-economic development to build a better estimate of flood risk for the region.
The study also brings to light the correlation between floods in different countries.
“Current risk-assessment models assume that each river basin is independent. But in actuality, river flows across Europe are closely correlated, rising and falling in response to large-scale atmospheric patterns that bring rains and dry spells to large regions,” said Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.
“If the rivers are flooding in central Europe, they are likely to also be flooding eastern European regions,” he said.
“We need to be prepared for larger stress on risk financing mechanisms, such as the pan-European Solidarity Fund, a financial tool for financing disaster recovery in the European Union,” Hochrainer-Stigler added.
The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.