Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 1921-1942, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
30 Jul 2014
Floods and climate: emerging perspectives for flood risk assessment and management
B. Merz1, J. Aerts2, K. Arnbjerg-Nielsen3, M. Baldi4, A. Becker5, A. Bichet6, G. Blöschl7, L. M. Bouwer8, A. Brauer1, F. Cioffi9, J. M. Delgado10, M. Gocht11, F. Guzzetti12, S. Harrigan13, K. Hirschboeck14, C. Kilsby15, W. Kron16, H.-H. Kwon17, U. Lall18, R. Merz19, K. Nissen20, P. Salvatti12, T. Swierczynski1, U. Ulbrich20, A. Viglione7, P. J. Ward2, M. Weiler21, B. Wilhelm22, and M. Nied1 1GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
2Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam, 1081HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands
3Dept. of Env. Eng., Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
4CNR-Institute of Biometeorology, 00185 Rome, Italy
5Deutscher Wetterdienst, Offenbach am Main, Germany
6University of Toronto, Physics Department, Toronto, Canada
7Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
8Deltares, Delft, the Netherlands
9DICEA, Department of Civil, Constructional & Environmental Engineering, University of Rome, La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
10University of Potsdam, Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Potsdam, Germany
11Technische Universität Braunschweig, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
12CNR IRPI, 06128 Perugia, Italy
13ICARUS, Dept. of Geography, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland
14Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
15School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
16Munich Re, 80802 Munich, Germany
17Department of Civil Engineering, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Republic of Korea
18Dept. of Earth & Env. Eng., Columbia University, New York, USA
19Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany
20Institute for Meteorology, Freie Universität Berlin, 12165 Berlin, Germany
21Chair of Hydrology, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
22EDYTEM, Université de Savoie, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac, France
Abstract. Flood estimation and flood management have traditionally been the domain of hydrologists, water resources engineers and statisticians, and disciplinary approaches abound. Dominant views have been shaped; one example is the catchment perspective: floods are formed and influenced by the interaction of local, catchment-specific characteristics, such as meteorology, topography and geology. These traditional views have been beneficial, but they have a narrow framing. In this paper we contrast traditional views with broader perspectives that are emerging from an improved understanding of the climatic context of floods. We come to the following conclusions: (1) extending the traditional system boundaries (local catchment, recent decades, hydrological/hydraulic processes) opens up exciting possibilities for better understanding and improved tools for flood risk assessment and management. (2) Statistical approaches in flood estimation need to be complemented by the search for the causal mechanisms and dominant processes in the atmosphere, catchment and river system that leave their fingerprints on flood characteristics. (3) Natural climate variability leads to time-varying flood characteristics, and this variation may be partially quantifiable and predictable, with the perspective of dynamic, climate-informed flood risk management. (4) Efforts are needed to fully account for factors that contribute to changes in all three risk components (hazard, exposure, vulnerability) and to better understand the interactions between society and floods. (5) Given the global scale and societal importance, we call for the organization of an international multidisciplinary collaboration and data-sharing initiative to further understand the links between climate and flooding and to advance flood research.

Citation: Merz, B., Aerts, J., Arnbjerg-Nielsen, K., Baldi, M., Becker, A., Bichet, A., Blöschl, G., Bouwer, L. M., Brauer, A., Cioffi, F., Delgado, J. M., Gocht, M., Guzzetti, F., Harrigan, S., Hirschboeck, K., Kilsby, C., Kron, W., Kwon, H.-H., Lall, U., Merz, R., Nissen, K., Salvatti, P., Swierczynski, T., Ulbrich, U., Viglione, A., Ward, P. J., Weiler, M., Wilhelm, B., and Nied, M.: Floods and climate: emerging perspectives for flood risk assessment and management, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 1921-1942,, 2014.
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