This was part of Economic Impacts of Climate Change

Understanding the Costs of Flooding in a Changing Climate

Frances Davenport, Colorado State University, Fort Collins

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Climate hazards like floods, heatwaves, and wildfires have significant negative impacts on society. Recent advances in climate change detection and attribution have linked the increasing frequency and/or intensity of individual extreme climate events to anthropogenic climate change. In this talk, I will highlight empirical research to attribute economic costs of flooding to historical changes in precipitation. Using state-level data on precipitation and flood damage, we model the relationship between changes in precipitation and the costs of flooding in the United States. Additionally, we analyze long-term changes in precipitation, and find that there has been an increase in the frequency of extreme wet conditions associated with flooding. These increases in extreme precipitation are consistent with the response to global warming simulated by an ensemble of global climate models. Combined, our results find that historical changes in precipitation have contributed to over a third of the flood damages in the U.S from 1988-2017. I will conclude with some larger takeaways from this research - such as what type of flood events cause the most damage, and highlight other areas of research that are needed to fully understand flood risk in a changing climate.