Articles | Volume 11, issue 4
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 1205–1216, 2011
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 1205–1216, 2011

Research article 29 Apr 2011

Research article | 29 Apr 2011

Future storm surge impacts on insurable losses for the North Sea region

L. Gaslikova1,2,*, A. Schwerzmann3, C. C. Raible1,2, and T. F. Stocker1,2 L. Gaslikova et al.
  • 1Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Sidlerstraße 5, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Zähringerstraße 25, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 3Swiss Reinsurance Company, Zurich, Switzerland
  • *now at: Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Centre for Materials & Coastal Research, Germany

Abstract. The influence of climate change on storm surges including increased mean sea level change and the associated insurable losses are assessed for the North Sea basin. In doing so, the newly developed approach couples a dynamical storm surge model with a loss model. The key element of the approach is the generation of a probabilistic storm surge event set. Together with parametrizations of the inland propagation and the coastal protection failure probability this enables the estimation of annual expected losses. The sensitivity to the parametrizations is rather weak except when the assumption of high level of increased mean sea level change is made. Applying this approach to future scenarios shows a substantial increase of insurable losses with respect to the present day. Superimposing different mean sea level changes shows a nonlinear behavior at the country level, as the future storm surge changes are higher for Germany and Denmark. Thus, the study exhibits the necessity to assess the socio-economic impacts of coastal floods by combining the expected sea level rise with storm surge projections.