Risk Analysis

Floods and Climate Change: Interactions and Impacts

Journal Article

Whether the floods experienced during the last decade in Germany and in other European countries are triggered or worsened by human activities has been the subject of a great deal of debate. Possible anthropogenic activities leading to increased flood risk include river regulation measures, intensified land use and forestry, and emissions of greenhouse gases causing a change in the global climate. This article discusses the latter by reviewing the existing knowledge on the subject. First, the relevance, capabilities, and limitations of climate models for the simulation and analysis of flood risk under aspects of the anthropogenic climate change are described. Special consideration is given here to differences between the “typical” spatial scale of climate models and hydrological flood models. Second, observations of trends in climate variables relevant for river flooding issues are summarized. Special emphasis is put on the Rhine and other German catchment areas. Third, the possibilities of modeling the different parts of the “cascade of flood risk” are summarized, introducing the special features of meteorological, hydrological, and river hydraulic models.

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