Articles | Volume 14, issue 7
Research article
25 Jul 2014
Research article |  | 25 Jul 2014

The role of different factors related to social impact of heavy rain events: considerations about the intensity thresholds in densely populated areas

L. Barbería, J. Amaro, M. Aran, and M. C. Llasat

Abstract. In the assessment of social impact caused by meteorological events, factors of different natures need to be considered. Not only does hazard itself determine the impact that a severe weather event has on society, but also other features related to vulnerability and exposure.

The requests of data related to insurance claims received in meteorological services proved to be a good indicator of the social impact that a weather event causes, according to studies carried out by the Social Impact Research Group, created within the framework of the MEDEX project. Taking these requests as proxy data, diverse aspects connected to the impact of heavy rain events have been studied.

The rainfall intensity, in conjunction with the population density, has established itself as one of the key factors in social impact studies. One of the conclusions we obtained is that various thresholds of rainfall should be applied for areas of varying populations. In this study, the role of rainfall intensity has been analysed for a highly populated urban area like Barcelona. A period without significant population changes has been selected for the study to minimise the effects linked to vulnerability and exposure modifications. First, correlations between rainfall recorded in different time intervals and requests were carried out. Afterwards, a method to include the intensity factor in the social impact index was suggested based on return periods given by intensity–duration–frequency (IDF) curves.

Final-revised paper