Research ArticleCLIMATOLOGY

Higher probability of compound flooding from precipitation and storm surge in Europe under anthropogenic climate change

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Science Advances  18 Sep 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 9, eaaw5531
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw5531


In low-lying coastal areas, the co-occurrence of high sea level and precipitation resulting in large runoff may cause compound flooding (CF). When the two hazards interact, the resulting impact can be worse than when they occur individually. Both storm surges and heavy precipitation, as well as their interplay, are likely to change in response to global warming. Despite the CF relevance, a comprehensive hazard assessment beyond individual locations is missing, and no studies have examined CF in the future. Analyzing co-occurring high sea level and heavy precipitation in Europe, we show that the Mediterranean coasts are experiencing the highest CF probability in the present. However, future climate projections show emerging high CF probability along parts of the northern European coast. In several European regions, CF should be considered as a potential hazard aggravating the risk caused by mean sea level rise in the future.

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