Mapping the future of flood risk 

Flooding is one of the most prevalent forms of natural hazard. Since most major cities are developed along the coastline or waterways, flood risk threatens more people than any other natural catastrophe (Swiss Re). A range of factors, from climate change and unplanned urbanisation to rapid land use change, are combining with more regular and extreme weather events to cause increased destruction.  

Scientists at Columbia University’s Earth Institute estimate that by 2025, the number of people living within 60 miles of coast will rise by 35% compared to 1995 levels. Even more striking is the recent analysis of global population data and JBA’s global flood mapping data which estimates that two billion people worldwide will be at risk of inland flooding by the year 2020. 

Understanding flood risk from river, surface water, coastal or groundwater sources is critical for designing and implementing a range of flood risk management strategies, including financial risk transfer mechanisms.   

In our upcoming blogs and webinars, we are working with Oasis HUB to share insights into flood risk assessment and management, highlighting opportunities for the global (re)insurance industry, government agencies, international financial institutions (IFIs), not-for-profit organisations and other stakeholders.  

The Risk

Much of the rapid growth in cities worldwide is a result of unplanned, informal development that can have a major detrimental effect on the natural environment. However, flood risk cannot be removed completely and therefore communities must adapt and become more resilient. To understand resilience at city, region or country-level, a detailed understanding of the dynamics of flooding is required alongside an understanding of population and development practices.   

Models have become the most effective tool to help understand the context of flooding and weigh up intervention options for risk reduction or post-flood recovery. They enable better planning and are widely used to understand changes in a region. For instance, the devastating 2011 Thailand flooding caused an estimated USD 46.5 billion of financial loss (World Bank). However, rather than expect this to improve should a similar event occur again, models have been used to estimate that USD 60-80 billion financial loss could be expected from a similar event (GFDRR).  

How do we know this?

Catastrophe models are used to help risk managers understand the dynamics of flooding. Through analysing data on historic flooding, flood models can be developed – computed simplifications of reality to help simulate tens of thousands of years or to allow us to change the physical environment.  

By nature, models are not perfect, but they are pragmatic tools used to help governments, businesses and non-governmental organization (NGOs) estimate and simulate potential impacts of future events. Risk profiles derived from models are supporting the planning, design and development of both physical intervention measures (engineered or nature-based) and financial risk-transfer mechanisms such as insurance. 

Join us for our webinar with Oasis Hub on Tuesday 27 November

The upcoming webinar and blog will look at the science and methods used by JBA through a series of real-world projects undertaken in recent years. These will demonstrate how effective design and application of science and technology is delivering benefits to disaster risk practitioners globally. 

Firstly, we will explore how our flood maps, models and other tools, along with our expert technical assistance, are supporting international development activities around the world; from developing city-wide catastrophe models in west Africa to tackling the confluence of riverine and coastal flooding in South America, to unique ways of supporting forecast-based action on flooding in India and Bangladesh.  

We’ll take a more in-depth look at how planners and developers benefit from the use of flood maps and how linking to overarching frameworks, like Sendai, can provide greater benefits to governments, NGOs and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) organisations.

We will focus on several of our projects that have improved the understanding of flood and climate risk including:

  • Collaboration with Arup for the World Bank for a multi-peril catastrophe model for Sierra Leone
  • A project designed to understand the role of nature-based solutions in reducing flood risk in Suriname
  • Forecasting flooding and the associated impacts in India. 

Watch the webinar today

If you missed out on the webinar, watch the recording below to catch up on the conversation.

About Oasis HUB

Oasis HUB is a joint initiative of EIT Climate-KIC, Oasis Loss Modelling Framework (LMF) Ltd and the Oasis+ Consortium formed in 2015. The initiative was formed to increase the availability of information on catastrophe and climate change risk and to assist the development of evidence-based climate adaptation planning. The founding members bring together expertise from throughout the EU. This includes financial and prestigious academic and research organisations who seek to encourage the development of a broader market within the modelling and services sector in catastrophe and climate change risk and climate adaptation.

Want to know more?

Email John Bevington for more information on the ‘Mapping the future of flood risk’ webinar. You can also find out more about our globally-scalable operational system by visiting our Flood Foresight web page.

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