Projections of future extreme weather losses under changes in climate and exposure

L.M. Bouwer

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Many attempts are made to assess future changes in extreme weather events due to anthropogenic climate change, but few studies have estimated the potential change in economic losses from such events. Projecting losses is more complex as it requires insight into the change in the weather hazard but also into exposure and vulnerability of assets. This article discusses the issues involved as well as a framework for projecting future losses, and provides an overview of some state-of-the-art projections. Estimates of changes in losses from cyclones and floods are given, and particular attention is paid to the different approaches and assumptions. All projections show increases in extreme weather losses due to climate change. Flood losses are generally projected to increase more rapidly than losses from tropical and extra-tropical cyclones. However, for the period until the year 2040, the contribution from increasing exposure and value of capital at risk to future losses is likely to be equal or larger than the contribution from anthropogenic climate change. Given the fact that the occurrence of loss events also varies over time due to natural climate variability, the signal from anthropogenic climate change is likely to be lost among the other causes for changes in risk, at least during the period until 2040. More efforts are needed to arrive at a comprehensive approach that includes quantification of changes in hazard, exposure, and vulnerability, as well as adaptation effects. © 2012 Society for Risk Analysis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)915-930
    JournalRisk Analysis
    Issue number5
    Early online date7 Sep 2012
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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