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, the European’s current average losses of 4.9 billion euros a year could reach 23.5 billion euros by 2050, a rise of almost 380 percent, said the study in the journal Nature Climate Change.
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 (9 billion pounds) of losses in nine countries across central and eastern Europe, according to reinsurance company Munich Re.