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Climate change and river flooding: part 2 sensitivity characterisation for british catchments and example vulnerability assessments

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-05-03, 15:15 authored by Christel Prudhomme, Alison L. Kay, Sue M. Crooks, Nick S. Reynard
This paper is the second of a series describing a scenario-neutral methodology to assess the sensitivity and vulnerability of British catchments to changes in flooding due to climate change. In paper one, nine flood sensitivity types were identified from response surfaces generated for 154 catchments. The response surfaces describe changes in 20-year return period flood peaks (RP20) in response to a large set of changes in precipitation, temperature and potential evapotranspiration. In this paper, a recursive partitioning algorithm is used to link families of sensitivity types to catchment properties, via a decision tree. The tree shows 85 % success characterising the four sensitivity families, using five properties and nine paths. Catchment annual average rainfall is the primary partitioning factor, with drier catchments having a more variable response to climate (precipitation) change than wetter catchments and higher catchment losses and permeability being aggravating factors. The full sensitivity-exposure-vulnerability methodology is illustrated for two catchments: sensitivity is estimated by using the decision tree to identify the sensitivity family (and its associated average response surface); exposure is defined from a set of climate model projections and combined with the response surface to estimate the resulting impacts (changes in RP20); vulnerability under a range of adaptive capacity thresholds is estimated from the set of impacts. Even though they are geographically close, the two catchments show differing vulnerability to climate change, due to their differing properties. This demonstrates that generalised response surfaces characterised by catchment properties are useful screening tools to quantify the vulnerability of catchments to climate change without the need to undertake a full climate change impact study. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Climatic Change






949 - 964


PRUDHOMME, C. ... et al, 2013. Climate change and river flooding: part 2 sensitivity characterisation for british catchments and example vulnerability assessments. Climatic Change, 119 (3-4), pp. 949-964


© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0726-3




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