Quantifying the effect of autonomous adaptation to global river flood projections: Application to future flood risk assessments

Youhei Kinoshita, Masahiro Tanoue, Satoshi Watanabe, Yukiko Hirabayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This study represents the first attempt to quantify the effects of autonomous adaptation on the projection of global flood hazards and to assess future flood risk by including this effect. A vulnerability scenario, which varies according to the autonomous adaptation effect for conventional disaster mitigation efforts, was developed based on historical vulnerability values derived from flood damage records and a river inundation simulation. Coupled with general circulation model outputs and future socioeconomic scenarios, potential future flood fatalities and economic loss were estimated. By including the effect of autonomous adaptation, our multimodel ensemble estimates projected a 2.0% decrease in potential flood fatalities and an 821% increase in potential economic losses by 2100 under the highest emission scenario together with a large population increase. Vulnerability changes reduced potential flood consequences by 64%-72% in terms of potential fatalities and 28%-42% in terms of potential economic losses by 2100. Although socioeconomic changes made the greatest contribution to the potential increased consequences of future floods, about a half of the increase of potential economic losses was mitigated by autonomous adaptation. There is a clear and positive relationship between the global temperature increase from the pre-industrial level and the estimated mean potential flood economic loss, while there is a negative relationship with potential fatalities due to the autonomous adaptation effect. A bootstrapping analysis suggests a significant increase in potential flood fatalities (+5.7%) without any adaptation if the temperature increases by 1.5°C-2.0°C, whereas the increase in potential economic loss (+0.9%) was not significant. Our method enables the effects of autonomous adaptation and additional adaptation efforts on climate-induced hazards to be distinguished, which would be essential for the accurate estimation of the cost of adaptation to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number014006
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying the effect of autonomous adaptation to global river flood projections: Application to future flood risk assessments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this