Climate signals in river flood damages emerge under sound regional disaggregation

Inga J. Sauer, Ronja Reese, Christian Otto*, Tobias Geiger, Sven N. Willner, Benoit P. Guillod, David N. Bresch, Katja Frieler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Climate change affects precipitation patterns. Here, we investigate whether its signals are already detectable in reported river flood damages. We develop an empirical model to reconstruct observed damages and quantify the contributions of climate and socio-economic drivers to observed trends. We show that, on the level of nine world regions, trends in damages are dominated by increasing exposure and modulated by changes in vulnerability, while climate-induced trends are comparably small and mostly statistically insignificant, with the exception of South & Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Asia. However, when disaggregating the world regions into subregions based on river-basins with homogenous historical discharge trends, climate contributions to damages become statistically significant globally, in Asia and Latin America. In most regions, we find monotonous climate-induced damage trends but more years of observations would be needed to distinguish between the impacts of anthropogenic climate forcing and multidecadal oscillations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2128
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalNature Communications
Volume12
Issue number1
Early online date9 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

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