In addition, the EEA says that floods, storms and other hydro-meteorological events account for around two thirds of the damage costs of natural disasters, and these costs have increased since 1980.

Recent assessments carried out by the organisation reveal that extreme weather events are mainly due to land use change, increases in population, economic wealth and human activities in hazard-prone areas and to better reporting.

However, the EEA says that in order to confirm the exact role played by climate change in flooding trends in past decades, it would be necessary to have more reliable, long-time series data for rivers with a natural flow regime.

Notwithstanding this, EEA executive director Hans Bruyninckx predicted that rising temperatures in Europe will intensify the hydrological cycle, leading to more frequent and intense floods in many regions.

“Considering flood risk in Europe, we can see climate change will be an increasingly important factor. But in many cases, flood risk is also the result of where, and how, we choose to live – increases in costs from flooding in recent decades can be partly attributed to more people living in flood-prone areas,” he said.

In order to combat an increase in flooding, the EEA says Europe must adapt to climate change that is happening now, and anticipate future change.

Conor McGlone

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