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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-229
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-229
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  26 Aug 2020

26 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Regional tropical cyclone impact functions for globally consistent risk assessments

Samuel Eberenz1,2, Samuel Lüthi1,2, and David N. Bresch1,2 Samuel Eberenz et al.
  • 1Institute for Environmental Decisions, ETH Zurich, Zurich, 8092, Switzerland
  • 2Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Zurich-Airport, 8058, Switzerland

Abstract. Assessing the adverse impacts caused by tropical cyclones has become increasingly important, as both climate change and human coastal development increase the damage potential. In order to assess tropical cyclone risk, direct economic damage is frequently modelled based on hazard intensity, asset exposure and vulnerability, the latter represented by impact functions. In this study, we show that assessing tropical cyclone risk on a global level with one single impact function calibrated for the USA – which is a typical approach in many recent studies – is problematic, biasing the simulated damages by as much as a factor of 36 in the North West Pacific. Thus, tropical cyclone risk assessments should always consider regional differences in vulnerability, too. This study proposes a calibrated model to adequately assess tropical cyclone risk in different regions by fitting regional impact functions based on reported damage data. Applying regional calibrated impact functions within the risk modelling framework CLIMADA at a resolution of 10 km worldwide, we find global annual average direct damage caused by tropical cyclones to range from 51 up to 121 billion USD (current value of 2014, 1980–2017), with the largest uncertainties in the West Pacific basin, where the calibration results are the least robust. To better understand the challenges in the West Pacific and to complement the global perspective of this study, we explore uncertainties and limitations entailed in the modelling setup for the case of the Philippines. While using wind as a proxy for tropical cyclone hazard proves to be a valid approach in general, the case of the Philippines reveals limitations of the model and calibration due to the lack of an explicit representation of sub-perils such as storm surge, torrential rainfall, and landslides. The globally consistent methodology and calibrated regional impact functions are available online as a Python package, ready for application in practical contexts like physical risk disclosure and providing more credible information for climate adaptation studies.

Samuel Eberenz et al.

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Samuel Eberenz et al.

Model code and software

CLIMADA v1.4.1 David N. Bresch, Gabriela Aznar Siguan, Veronica Bozzini, Rachel Bungener, Samuel Eberenz, Jan Hartman, Evelyn Mühlhofer, Marine Pérus, Thomas Röösli, Inga Sauer, Emanuel Schmid, Zélie Stalhandske, Carmen Steinmann, Dario Stocker https://doi.org/10.5905/ethz-1007-252

Samuel Eberenz et al.

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Short summary
Asset damage caused by tropical cyclones is often computed based on impact functions mapping wind speed to damage. However, a lack of regional impact functions can lead to a substantial bias in tropical cyclone risk estimates. Here, we present regionally calibrated impact functions as well as global risk estimates. Our results are relevant for researchers, model developers, and practitioners in the context of global risk assessments, climate change adaptation, and physical risk disclosure.
Asset damage caused by tropical cyclones is often computed based on impact functions mapping...
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