Delft, The Netherlands, 21 Oct 2021

Historical data not enough to judge flood risk, IHE Delft professor says in journal editorial

With climate change exacerbating natural disasters such as flooding, future risk can no longer be deduced solely on historical data, IHE Delft Associated Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources Shreedhar Maskey argues in an editorial that introduces a new Journal of Flood Risk Management Virtual Special Issue on climate change research.

Global warming means that the global amount of precipitation, on average, will increase – something that is a cause for concern. But the uneven distribution of the intensity of precipitation is an even bigger worry, Maskey said in the editorial, co-authored with Paul Samuels of HR Wallingford, a not-for-profit specialist research consultancy.

“More worrisome are the scenarios of more frequent high-intensity rainfall events resulting in floods that undermine the capacities of both natural and constructed drainage systems,” the editorial states.

This means that designs of such systems cannot be based on what happened in the past – they must be dimensioned for intensities that have not been recorded before, Maskey said.

The Virtual Special Issue, which collects 11 papers that have been previously published by the Journal of Flood Risk Management, targets researchers and practitioners involved in designing strategies and plans for future flood risk mitigation and adaptation.

Other topics highlighted in the editorial and the special issue include:

  • The need to carefully translate the climate change impacts assessed at larger scale into the scale of the catchments and coastlines where management actions are taken.
  • The need to explore a credible range of climatic conditions, particularly in planning beyond the short-term (i.e. > 20 years ahead) combined with more scientifically based scenarios for land use, population and socio-economic changes.
  • The need to avoid constraining future measures by making choices that offer maximum flexibility and make adaptations possible.
  • The need to fully account for all benefits and costs, particularly when implementing nature-based solutions to manage flood risks.

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