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Accounting for tropical cyclones more than doubles the global population exposed to low-probability coastal flooding

Storm surges that occur along low-lying, densely populated coastlines can leave devastating societal, economical, and ecological impacts. To protect coastal communities from flooding, return periods of storm tides, defined as the combination of the surge and tide, must be accurately evaluated. Here we present storm tide return periods using a novel integration of two modelling techniques. For surges induced by extratropical cyclones, we use a 38-year time series based on the ERA5 climate reanalysis. For surges induced by tropical cyclones, we use synthetic tropical cyclones from the STORM dataset representing 10,000 years under current climate conditions. Tropical and extratropical cyclone surge levels are probabilistically combined with tidal levels, and return periods are computed empirically. We estimate that 78 million people are exposed to a 1 in 1000-year flood caused by extratropical cyclones, which more than doubles to 192 M people when taking tropical cyclones into account. Our results show that previous studies have underestimated the global exposure to low-probability coastal flooding by 31%.
Author: Dullaart, J. C. M.; et al.
Language: English
Pubished By: Communications earth and environment
Pubished date: 2021

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