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Volume 22, issue 11 | Copyright

Special issue: HESS Opinions

Special issue: Panta Rhei: opinions and progress towards hydrology for a...

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 5629-5637, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-5629-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Opinion article 30 Oct 2018

Opinion article | 30 Oct 2018

Hess Opinions: An interdisciplinary research agenda to explore the unintended consequences of structural flood protection

Giuliano Di Baldassarre1,2, Heidi Kreibich3, Sergiy Vorogushyn3, Jeroen Aerts4, Karsten Arnbjerg-Nielsen5, Marlies Barendrecht6, Paul Bates7, Marco Borga8, Wouter Botzen4,9, Philip Bubeck10, Bruna De Marchi11, Carmen Llasat12, Maurizio Mazzoleni13, Daniela Molinari14, Elena Mondino1,2, Johanna Mård1,2, Olga Petrucci15, Anna Scolobig16, Alberto Viglione17, and Philip J. Ward4 Giuliano Di Baldassarre et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, 75236, Sweden
  • 2Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Science (CNDS), Sweden
  • 3GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 4Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 1081, the Netherlands
  • 5Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, 2800, Denmark
  • 6Centre for Water Resource Systems, Vienna University of Technology, 1040 Vienna, Austria
  • 7School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1SS, UK
  • 8Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, Università degli Studi di Padova, Padova, 35122, Italy
  • 9Utrecht University School of Economics (USE.), Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 10Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Potsdam, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
  • 11SVT, Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, University of Bergen, Bergen, 5020, Norway
  • 12Department of Applied Physics, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, 08007, Spain
  • 13Department of Integrated Water Systems and Governance, IHE Delft, Delft, 2601, the Netherlands
  • 14Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, 20133, Italy
  • 15CNR-IRPI National Research Council – Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection, Rende (CS), 87036, Italy
  • 16Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zürich, Zürich, 8092, Switzerland
  • 17Centre for Water Resource Systems, Vienna University of Technology, 1040 Vienna, Austria

Abstract. One common approach to cope with floods is the implementation of structural flood protection measures, such as levees or flood-control reservoirs, which substantially reduce the probability of flooding at the time of implementation. Numerous scholars have problematized this approach. They have shown that increasing the levels of flood protection can attract more settlements and high-value assets in the areas protected by the new measures. Other studies have explored how structural measures can generate a sense of complacency, which can act to reduce preparedness. These paradoxical risk changes have been described as levee effect, safe development paradox or safety dilemma. In this commentary, we briefly review this phenomenon by critically analysing the intended benefits and unintended effects of structural flood protection, and then we propose an interdisciplinary research agenda to uncover these paradoxical dynamics of risk.

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One common approach to cope with floods is the implementation of structural flood protection measures, such as levees. Numerous scholars have problematized this approach and shown that increasing levels of flood protection can generate a false sense of security and attract more people to the risky areas. We briefly review the literature on this topic and then propose a research agenda to explore the unintended consequences of structural flood protection.
One common approach to cope with floods is the implementation of structural flood protection...
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