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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-152
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
24 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
Modeled changes in 100 year Flood Risk and Asset Damages within Mapped Floodplains of the Contiguous United States
Cameron Wobus1, Ethan Gutmann2, Russell Jones1, Matthew Rissing1, Naoki Mizukami2, Mark Lorie1, Hardee Mahoney1, Andrew W. Wood2, David Mills1, and Jeremy Martinich3 1Abt Associates, 1881 Ninth Street, Suite 201, Boulder, CO, 80302 USA
2National Center for Atmospheric Research, 3450 Mitchell Lane, Boulder, CO, 80301 USA
3U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change Division, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC, 20460 USA
Abstract. A growing body of recent work suggests that the extreme weather events that drive inland flooding are likely to increase in frequency and magnitude in a warming climate, thus increasing flooding damages in the future. We use hydrologic projections based on the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) to estimate changes in the frequency of modeled 1 % annual exceedance probability flood events at 57 116 locations across the contiguous United States (CONUS). We link these flood projections to a database of assets within mapped flood hazard zones to model changes in inland flooding damages throughout the CONUS over the remainder of the 21st century. Our model generates early 21st century flood damages that reasonably approximate the range of historical observations, and trajectories of future damages that vary substantially depending on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions pathway. The difference in modeled flood damages between higher and lower emissions pathways approaches $ 4 billion per year by 2100 (in undiscounted 2014 dollars), suggesting that aggressive GHG emissions reductions could generate significant monetary benefits over the long-term in terms of reduced flood risk. Although the downscaled hydrologic data we used have been applied to flood impacts studies elsewhere, this research expands on earlier work to quantify changes in flood risk by linking future flood exposure to assets and damages at a national scale. This work uses relatively conservative assumptions and methods that ultimately affect damage estimates; future work is needed to test sensitivity related to these methodological choices (e.g., more sophisticated downscaling methods, use of multiple hydrologic models, and consideration of a wider range of flood magnitudes).

Citation: Wobus, C., Gutmann, E., Jones, R., Rissing, M., Mizukami, N., Lorie, M., Mahoney, H., Wood, A. W., Mills, D., and Martinich, J.: Modeled changes in 100 year Flood Risk and Asset Damages within Mapped Floodplains of the Contiguous United States, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-152, in review, 2017.
Cameron Wobus et al.
Cameron Wobus et al.
Cameron Wobus et al.

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Short summary
We linked modeled changes in the frequency of 100-year flood events nationwide to an inventory of built assets within mapped floodplains of the United States. This allowed us to project changes in inland flooding damages nationwide, under two alternative greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Our results suggest that more aggressive greenhouse gas reductions could reduce projected monetary damages from inland flooding, potentially saving billions of dollars annually by the end of the century.
We linked modeled changes in the frequency of 100-year flood events nationwide to an inventory...
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