An assessment of the potential for Natural Flood Management to offset climate change impacts

Friday, March 29, 2019

Natural Flood Management (NFM) aims to work with natural processes to reduce flood risk, and can potentially contribute to integrated flood risk management (alongside engineering solutions) by providing landscape-based resilience to climate change impacts. Here, two approaches are used to assess the extent to which NFM could offset the impacts of climate change on floods in Great Britain. The first looks at specific catchments where there is quantitative evidence for the effect of NFM measures on peak flows. The second takes a broad-brush national view, assuming two potential levels of NFM reductions in peak flows. Both approaches use flood impacts derived from climate change projections for a range of future time-slices and emissions scenarios. The results show that NFM measures are much less likely to be able to offset the impacts of climate change for later time-slices and for higher emissions scenarios, but also that the chance of offsetting the impacts of climate change in any individual catchment will depend on its type (how sensitive it is to climatic changes) and its location (due to spatial variation in climatic changes). Confounding factors in the analysis include any time lag associated with the NFM reduction in peak flows, and different effects of NFM on peak flows of different return periods. It is also unclear whether there is any relationship between a catchment's type and its practical potential for implementing NFM, or the level of peak flow reduction that NFM could achieve; any such relationship could be critical in determining the overall potential for NFM to offset climate change impacts in different catchments. Although the focus here is Great Britain, a similar approach could be applied internationally.

Read the journal article here

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