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Coastal flooding-induced displacement caused by tropical cyclone Idai and the role of anthropogenic climate change


Tuesday 31 May 2022 | 11.00 am CEST
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Extreme weather events often trigger massive population displacement. At the same time, the frequency and intensity of such events is affected by anthropogenic climate change. However, the effect of historical climate change on displacement risk has not been quantified. Here, we show how displacement can be partially attributed to climate change, using the example of tropical cyclone Idai hitting Mozambique in 2019. We estimate population exposure to flooding following Idai’s landfall, using a combination of storm surge modeling and remotely sensed flood extent and depth, for factual (climate change) and counterfactual (no climate change) mean sea level and maximum wind speed conditions. We find that enhanced cyclone intensity has played a larger role than rising sea level in raising exposure to flooding. Besides highlighting the significant effect climate change already has on humanitarian conditions, our study may also serve as a blueprint for event-based displacement attribution.

RECEIPT aims to provide relevant and quantitative information on the European risks from remote global climatic features using a novel scientific storyline concept that maps representative connections between European socio-economic activities and remote climatic hazards. In WP5, we are assessing how climate variability and change can undermine development progress, competitiveness, stability and resilience of countries with which the EU maintains strategic partnership relations.

Speaker:  Benedikt Mester, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research – PIK

Moderator: Domenico Bovienzo, Research fellow at CMCC@Ca’Foscari, Risk Assessment and Adaptation Strategies Division – CMCC

Discussant: Bina Desai, IDMC