Articles | Volume 11, issue 2
Research article
15 Feb 2011
Research article |  | 15 Feb 2011

Future flood risk estimates along the river Rhine

A. H. te Linde, P. Bubeck, J. E. C. Dekkers, H. de Moel, and J. C. J. H. Aerts

Abstract. In Europe, water management is moving from flood defence to a risk management approach, which takes both the probability and the potential consequences of flooding into account. It is expected that climate change and socio-economic development will lead to an increase in flood risk in the Rhine basin. To optimize spatial planning and flood management measures, studies are needed that quantify future flood risks and estimate their uncertainties. In this paper, we estimated the current and future fluvial flood risk in 2030 for the entire Rhine basin in a scenario study. The change in value at risk is based on two land-use projections derived from a land-use model representing two different socio-economic scenarios. Potential damage was calculated by a damage model, and changes in flood probabilities were derived from two climate scenarios and hydrological modeling. We aggregated the results into seven sections along the Rhine. It was found that the annual expected damage in the Rhine basin may increase by between 54% and 230%, of which the major part (~ three-quarters) can be accounted for by climate change. The highest current potential damage can be found in the Netherlands (110 billion €), compared with the second (80 billion €) and third (62 billion €) highest values in two areas in Germany. Results further show that the area with the highest fluvial flood risk is located in the Lower Rhine in Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany, and not in the Netherlands, as is often perceived. This is mainly due to the higher flood protection standards in the Netherlands as compared to Germany.