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WIREs Water

Evolutionary leap in large‐scale flood risk assessment needed

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Current approaches for assessing large‐scale flood risks contravene the fundamental principles of the flood risk system functioning because they largely ignore basic interactions and feedbacks between atmosphere, catchments, river‐floodplain systems, and socioeconomic processes. As a consequence, risk analyses are uncertain and might be biased. However, reliable risk estimates are required for prioritizing national investments in flood risk mitigation or for appraisal and management of insurance portfolios. We review several examples of process interactions and highlight their importance in shaping spatiotemporal risk patterns. We call for a fundamental redesign of the approaches used for large‐scale flood risk assessment. They need to be capable to form a basis for large‐scale flood risk management and insurance policies worldwide facing the challenge of increasing risks due to climate and global change. In particular, implementation of the European Flood Directive needs to be adjusted for the next round of flood risk mapping and development of flood risk management plans focusing on methods accounting for more process interactions in flood risk systems. WIREs Water 2018, 5:e1266. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1266

This article is categorized under:

  • Science of Water > Water Extremes
  • Science of Water > Hydrological Processes
  • Engineering Water > Planning Water
Difference in inundation areas and peak flow return periods (Qp) in the Elbe river network between the flood events in August 2002 and June 2013. HQ10 and HQ100 stand for 10‐years and 100‐years return period flow. The downstream shift in flood losses between the federal states of Saxony and Saxony‐Anhalt is demonstrated in the bar chart. Flood loss data for 2002 and 2013 flood is taken from Pfurtscheller and Thieken () and Thieken et al. (), respectively
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Engineering Water > Planning Water
Science of Water > Hydrological Processes
Science of Water > Water Quality

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