More people living in flood-prone areas
August 5, 2021 - Satellite imagery of 913 major flood events since 2000 shows that the percentage of the global population at risk from flooding has risen by almost a quarter -- to between 255 and 290 million people.
New research published in the journal Nature, ahead of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, found that between 2000 to 2015, the number of people living in flood-prone areas increased by an estimated 58 million to 86 million.
A summer of extreme flooding devastated Germany and Nigeria and killed more than 300 people in China, triggering arguments about levels of preparation.
“It’s not surprising that we’re seeing really large floods that are potentially unprecedented affecting countries like China,” Beth Tellman, lead author of the study, told CNN. “This is exactly what the climate models have predicted.”
Scientists at Cloud to Street -- an analytics company that developed the Global Flood Database -- analyzed flood exposure using satellite observations between 2000 and 2018.
Floods inundated some 2.2 million square kilometres (861,000 square miles) of land in 32 countries. Nearly 90% of the floods analyzed occurred in South and Southeast Asia, particularly in China, India and Bangladesh, where migration has increased significantly since 2000.
Tellman et al. say the critical drivers of flooding are heavy rainfall, tropical storms or surges and snow and ice melt.
Looking to the future, the authors estimate that by 2030, there will be an extra 25 countries experiencing increasing floods.