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New Study Finds No Evidence That Floods Are Getting Worse

June 28, 2014
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By Paul Homewood

 

Flooding around the world yearly results in significant losses of both life and property; and, therefore, it is a topic that figures highly in the deliberations of nations, cities and individuals. In addition, the authors of a major new study (Kundzewicz et al., 2014) say that "this issue is very timely and important since, these days, many a large flood is attributed by some to climate change." But is this attribution correct?

In regard to the IPCC’s Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, or SREX for short, Kundzewicz et al. say that their follow-up study "assesses the literature included in the IPCC SREX report and new literature published since, and includes an assessment of changes in flood risk in seven of the regions considered in the recent IPCC SREX report – Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, Oceania and Polar regions."

In terms of the past, the seventeen scientists, hailing from eleven different countries, report that "no gauge-based evidence has been found for a climate-driven, globally widespread change in the magnitude/frequency of floods during the last decades," while noting that "current studies indicate that increasing exposure of population and assets, and not anthropogenic climate change, is responsible for the past increase in flood losses." As for the future, they say that "considerable uncertainty remains in the projections of changes in flood magnitude and frequency," with the result that "there is low confidence in specific projections of changes in flood magnitude or frequency."

In the concluding paragraph of their extensive study, Kundzewicz et al. state that "although media reports of both floods and global flood damage are on the increase, there is still no Mauna-Loa-like record (see Vorosmarty, 2002) that shows a global increase in flood frequency or magnitude." Thus, they write that "blaming climate change for flood losses makes flood losses a global issue that appears to be out of the control of regional or national institutions." And they therefore state that "the scientific community needs to emphasize that the problem of flood losses is mostly about what we do on or to the landscape," which implies that individual, community, county and state responsibility "will be the case for decades to come."

 

http://www.nipccreport.org/articles/2014/jun/24jun2014a3.html

 

 

 

Flood risk and climate change: global and regional perspectives

 

ABSTRACT

A holistic perspective on changing rainfall-driven flood risk is provided for the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Economic losses from floods have greatly increased, principally driven by the expanding exposure of assets at risk. It has not been possible to attribute rain-generated peak streamflow trends to anthropogenic climate change over the past several decades. Projected increases in the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall, based on climate models, should contribute to increases in precipitation-generated local flooding (e.g. flash flooding and urban flooding). This article assesses the literature included in the IPCC SREX report and new literature published since, and includes an assessment of changes in flood risk in seven of the regions considered in the recent IPCC SREX report—Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, Oceania and Polar regions. Also considering newer publications, this article is consistent with the recent IPCC SREX assessment finding that the impacts of climate change on flood characteristics are highly sensitive to the detailed nature of those changes and that presently we have only low confidence1 in numerical projections of changes in flood magnitude or frequency resulting from climate change.

http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/36019/

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