Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2017-242
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
04 May 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Comparison of the impacts of urban development and climate change in exposing European cities to pluvial flooding
Per Skougaard Kaspersen1, Nanna Høegh Ravn2, Karsten Arnbjerg-Nielsen3, Henrik Madsen4, and Martin Drews1 1Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, 2800, Denmark
2LNH Water, Tikoeb, 3080, Denmark
3Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, 2800, Denmark
4DHI, Hoersholm, 2970, Denmark
Abstract. The economic and human consequences of extreme precipitation and the related flooding of urban areas have increased rapidly over the past decades. Some of the key factors that affect the risks to urban areas include climate change, the densification of assets within cities and the general expansion of urban areas. In this paper, we examine and compare quantitatively the impact of climate change and recent urban development patterns on the exposure of four European cities to pluvial flooding. In particular, we investigate the degree to which pluvial floods of varying severity and in different geographical locations are influenced to the same extent by changes in urban land cover and climate change. We have selected the European cities of Odense, Vienna, Strasbourg and Nice for analyses to represent, different climatic conditions, trends in urban development and topographical characteristics. We develop and apply a combined remote-sensing and flood-modelling approach to simulate the extent of pluvial flooding for a range of extreme precipitation events for historical (1984) and present-day (2014) urban land cover and for two climate-change scenarios (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5). Changes in urban land cover are estimated using Landsat satellite imagery for the period 1984–2014. We combine the remote-sensing analyses with regionally downscaled estimates of precipitation extremes of current and expected future climate to enable 2D overland flow simulations and flood-hazard assessments. The individual and combined impacts of urban development and climate change are quantified by examining the variations in flooding between the different simulations along with the corresponding uncertainties. For all four cities, we find an increase in flood exposure corresponding to an observed absolute growth in impervious surfaces of 7–12 % during the past thirty years of urban development. Similarly, we find that climate change increases exposure to pluvial flooding under both the RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios. The relative importance of urban development and climate change on flood exposure varies considerably between the cities. For Odense, the impact of urban development is comparable to that of climate change under an RCP 8.5 scenario (2081–2100), while for Vienna and Strasbourg it is comparable to the impacts of an RCP 4.5 scenario. For Nice, climate change dominates urban development as the primary driver of changes in exposure to flooding. The variation between geographical locations is caused by differences in soil infiltration properties, historical trends in urban development and the projected regional impacts of climate change on extreme precipitation.

Citation: Skougaard Kaspersen, P., Høegh Ravn, N., Arnbjerg-Nielsen, K., Madsen, H., and Drews, M.: Comparison of the impacts of urban development and climate change in exposing European cities to pluvial flooding, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2017-242, in review, 2017.
Per Skougaard Kaspersen et al.
Per Skougaard Kaspersen et al.
Per Skougaard Kaspersen et al.

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