Extreme floods like those
swamping parts of Britain in recent months could become more frequent in Europe
by 2050, more than quadrupling financial losses, if climate change worsens and
more people live in vulnerable areas, research showed on Sunday.
The study said instances of
very extreme floods, which now occur about once every 50 years, could shorten
to about every 30 years, while cases of extreme damage now occurring once every
16 years could shorten to once every 10 years.
With shorter cycles of extreme
floods and damage, Europe's current average losses of 4.9 billion Euros a
year could reach 23.5 billion Euros by 2050, a rise of almost 380%, said the
study in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Read: 2014 deadline for nations' greenhouse gas plans
Increase in frequency of losses
Scientists at several
universities and research centres in Europe and Australia used climate change
models, economic data and river discharge data to form their conclusions.
"Due to climate change
and GDP growth, by 2050 a one-in-fifty-years-flood might be one in 30 years so
the frequency of such losses increases dramatically – almost doubling,"
said co-author Brenden Jongman, researcher at the IVM Institute for
Environmental Studies at VU University Amsterdam.
Extreme damage can more
than double the average damage rate used in the study's calculations. In June
last year, extensive flooding resulted in 12 billion Euros of
losses in nine countries across central and eastern Europe, according to
reinsurance company Munich Re.
Better flood protection measures
The study said investment
in flood protection measures could help reduce the magnitude of overall flood
losses in the future.
By investing around 1.75
billion Euros in such measures, Europe's annual flood losses could be reduced
by around 7 billion Euros, or around 30%, by 2050, it estimated.
Rising costs from flood
damage are due to several factors such as changes in climate, land use,
population and wealth.
The European Environment
Agency said last year that costs from flooding were also rising in part because
more houses were being built in flood-prone areas.
Better reporting of floods
has also contributed to the rising overall cost of these inundations.
More heat waves on the way
A UN panel of climate
scientists has said the Earth is set for more heat waves, floods, droughts and
rising sea levels from melting ice sheets that could swamp coasts as greenhouse
gases built up in the atmosphere.
Read: Floods a health crisis in India
Other bodies, such as the
European Environment Agency, have said it is likely that rising temperatures in
Europe will change rainfall patterns, leading to more frequent and heavy floods
in many regions.
Britain is currently
experiencing its wettest winter on record, resulting in the worst floods for
the country in 50 years.
Accountancy firm Deloitte
said on Friday there were nearly 200 000 insurance claims in Britain in the
last three months of 2013 due to storms and floods – the highest number of such
claims over a fourth-quarter financial period for 10 years.
It has also estimated that
the cost of repairing the damage caused could reach 1 billion pounds. Insurance companies such as Aviva and Swiss Re have urged for more
action and investment to manage flooding.
Water pollution from floods a threat
Natural disasters cost $125 billion in 2013
'Turn around, don't drown'