River Floods in the Changing Climate-Observations and Projections

Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz, Yukiko Hirabayashi, Shinjiro Kanae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


River flood damages, worldwide, have increased dynamically in the last few decades, so that it is necessary to interpret this change. River flooding is a complex phenomenon which can be affected by changes coupled to terrestrial, socio-economic and climate systems. The climate track in the observed changes is likely, even if human encroaching into the harm's way and increase in the damage potential in floodplains can be the dominating factors in many river basins. Increase in intense precipitation has already been observed, with consequences to increasing risk of raininduced flooding. Projections for the future, based on climate model simulations, indicate increase of flood risks in many areas, globally. Over large areas, a 100-year flood in the control period is projected to become much more frequent in the future time horizon. Despite the fact that the degree of uncertainty in model-based projections is considerable and difficult to quantify, the change in design flood frequency has obvious relevance to flood risk management practice. The number of flood-affected people is projected to increase with the amount of warming. For a 4°C warming the number of flood-affected people is over 2.5 times higher than for a 2°C warming. The present contribution addresses the climate track in an integrated way, tackling issues related to multiple factors, change detection, projections, and adaptation to floods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2633-2646
Number of pages14
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Flood preparedness
  • Flood protection
  • Flood risk
  • Intense precipitation
  • River flooding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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