Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Benefits of Investments in Dikes Worldwide Known

The primary function of sea dikes is to protect low-lying, coastal areas from inundation by the sea under extreme conditions (Pilarczyk, 1998a).  Dikes are not intended to preserve beaches which may occur in front of the structure or any adjoining, unprotected beaches. (Credit: climatetechwiki.org) Click to Enlarge.
This is according to a study led by Philip Ward of the Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and colleagues in the Netherlands, UK and USA.  The research appears in the paper 'A global framework for future costs and benefits of river-flood protection in urban areas' in Nature Climate Change.

Benefits outweigh costs
In a first of its kind study of the costs and benefits of taking measures to reduce flood risk at the global scale, the authors assessed how much flood damage could be avoided in the future per state, if new dikes are constructed or dikes that are already in place are heightened.  They then assessed how much it would cost to build and maintain these dikes, and whether the benefits would outweigh the costs.  To do this, they used a cascade of global hydrological and economic models by Deltares, known as GLOFRIS.

Ward: "It is well-known that economic damages from floods are expected to increase over the coming decades due to climate change and an increase in population and assets in flood prone areas.  However, in this study we show that flood damages in the year 2080 can actually be reduced to below today's level, if we effectively invest in flood protection measures.  This is important information for policy-makers; the results help to identify those regions where we could efficiently invest in flood protection, and also highlight those regions in which other adaptation strategies may be needed, like creating more room for rivers and constructing flood resistant buildings".

Effectively address flood risk
The research will allow for more informed dialogue on flood risk management at the international level.  Whilst past studies have shown that flood risk will increase in the future, this is the first study at the global scale to examine how we can effectively address this.  The results and methods will be integrated in the Aqueduct Global Flood Analyzer, a tool developed by the World Resources Institute in Washington DC, together with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Deltares, the World Bank, Utrecht University, and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

Read more at Benefits of Investments in Dikes Worldwide Known

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