Floods impacts in the world
The Aqueduct Global Flood Analyzer is a web-based interactive platform which measures river flood impacts by urban damage, affected GDP, and affected population at the country, state, and river basin (also several cities) scale across the globe.
Source: Aqueduct Global Flood Analyzer
Runs offline: no
Website of the developer: World Resources Institute (WRI)
Aqueduct Global Flood Analyzer is a tool to analyze the floods impacts in the world. Although one of its main promoters is the WRI, its creation has also involved the collaboration of four Dutch organizations: Deltares, University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. As says Hessel Winsemius, a flood risk expert at Deltares, through this web application the “complex data becomes available to a non-specialist audience, far beyond the research arena. The Analyzer transforms data into actionable information, informing users which developments in their region are causing risk to increase and the advantages flood protection may deliver“. This is a tool especially designed to analyze the floods impacts by organizations related to development, the reduction of risks, insurance companies and multinational companies.
This tool has several options:
- “Year protection”, equivalent to the return periods (average time associated with a probability), which describes how well protected any given area is against flood damage. Its graphical representation is shown in the graphs under “Flood risk in” section.
- Tabs “Urban damage”, “Affected GDP” and “Affected Population”, that are estimates of the annual damage caused by floods in urban areas, the GDP and population. Taking Spain as an example, you can see that a flood with a return period of 5 years has a possibility of occurrence of 20% and can cause the equivalent to $ 15.3 billion in urban damage, $ 39.7 billion to the GDP and 1.5 million of people affected if there were no floods protection systems (dams, dikes, etc.). With infrastructures sized for this period of return, the condition is reduced in a conspicuous manner (“Annual expected urban damage” and “Anual avoided urban damage” indixes).
- Scenarios A, B and C for the year 2030, that take into account different levels of evolution in relation to climate change and socio-economic situation. Thus, if countries like Spain and India are compared, for example, we can see that socio-economic changes will be a significant variable in the analysis of the impact of floods in the Asian country, while in Spain will be insignificant.
Images: Screenshots 17/12/2015. ©WRI
Although there is no direct association, most of the scientific community believes that climate change is behind extreme weather events, including floods, aggravating them and altering their frequency of occurrence. Considering that millions of people live in areas near rivers because these zones are fertile and easy to urbanize, the development of tools such as Aqueduct Global Flood Analyzer is useful, especially in those countries where there is no mapping of flood. This web application provides guidance in relation to the estimate of damage that can cause these events, covering economic and social aspects and introducing the variables of climate change and population growth as distorting factors. However, it can’t be considered as an utility available to all types of public, since it handles some technical terms such as return periods. In this regard, perhaps can be interesting to have a prior understanding to extract the maximum usefulness from the tool, since the explanations included in the application may be scarce.