Beyond the local climate change uplift – the importance of changes in spatial structure on future fluvial flood risk in Great Britain

Sayers, Paul; Griffin, Adam ORCID:; Lowe, Jason; Bernie, Dan; Carr, Sam; Kay, Alison ORCID:; Stewart, Lisa ORCID: 2023 Beyond the local climate change uplift – the importance of changes in spatial structure on future fluvial flood risk in Great Britain. Natural Hazards.

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Widespread spatially coherent flood events can cause severe damage and disruption. Climate change has the potential to change the severity and frequency of such events. Despite this, assessment of future fluvial flood risk typically gives little to no consideration to potential changes in the spatial structure of future events. To understand the significance of this gap, climate model simulations are coupled with a national hydrological model to identify event spatially coherent present and future flood events. A statistical Empirical Copula is used to generate a large number of unseen events and linked to a national flood risk simulation model. The research finds that including changes in the spatial structure of flood events materially increases projected changes in risk when compared to conventional approaches based on local uplifts alone; increasing the projected change in Expected Annual Damage across Great Britain by a factor of ~ 1.5. The event-based approach is also shown to provide new insights into the extreme distribution fluvial risk including single event damage, damage seasons, and damage years. The results suggest the 1-in-100-year winter flood may increase from £1.3b to £2.1b, and the 1-in-100 year single event damage may rise from £1.1b today to £1.7b by the 2080s given a 4 °C rise in Global Mean Surface Temperature (assuming current adaptation policies continue and no population growth). Consequently, the findings suggest a much greater emphasis is needed on spatial ‘flood events’ if future risk is to be understood and adaptation responses appropriately framed.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hydro-climate Risks (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0921-030X
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: climate change, regional climate modelling, flood risk, adaptation
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Data and Information
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Date made live: 09 Jan 2024 16:41 +0 (UTC)

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