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Climate change has caused billions of dollars in flood damages, according to Stanford researchers

Water rescue crew searches by boat for survivors after a dangerous flooding event.
mage credit: Roschetzky / iStockPhoto
Jan 11 2021
Fellow, Research, Stanford, Students

In a new study, Stanford researchers report that intensifying precipitation contributed one-third of the financial costs of flooding in the United States over the past three decades, totaling almost $75 billion of the estimated $199 billion in flood damages from 1988 to 2017.

The research, published Jan. 11 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, helps to resolve a long-standing debate about the role of climate change in the rising costs of flooding and provides new insight into the financial costs of global warming overall.

“The fact that extreme precipitation has been increasing and will likely increase in the future is well known, but what effect that has had on financial damages has been uncertain,” said lead author Frances Davenport, a PhD student in Earth system science at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “Our analysis allows us to isolate how much of those changes in precipitation translate to changes in the cost of flooding, both now and in the future.”

Study lead author, Frances Davenport, is a 2020 SIGF fellow.

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