Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
09 Feb 2009
 | 09 Feb 2009

Normalised flood losses in Europe: 1970–2006

J. I. Barredo

Abstract. This paper presents an assessment of normalised flood losses in Europe for the period 1970–2006. Normalisation provides an estimate of the losses that would occur if the floods from the past take place under current societal conditions. Economic losses from floods are the result of both societal and climatological factors. Failing to adjust for time-variant socio-economic factors produces loss amounts that are not directly comparable over time, but rather show an ever-growing trend for purely socio-economic reasons. This study has used available information on flood losses from the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) and the Natural Hazards Assessment Network (NATHAN).

Following the conceptual approach of previous studies, we normalised flood losses by considering the effects of changes in population, wealth, and inflation at the country level. Furthermore, we removed inter-country price differences by adjusting the losses for purchasing power parities (PPP). We assessed normalised flood losses in 31 European countries. These include the member states of the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Croatia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Results show no detectable sign of human-induced climate change in normalised flood losses in Europe. The observed increase in the original flood losses is mostly driven by societal factors.