Contrasting Biophysical and Societal Impacts of Hydro-Meteorological Extremes


Extreme hydrological and meteorological conditions can severely affect ecosystems, parts of the economy, and consequently society. These impacts are expected to be aggravated by climate change. Here we analyze and compare the impacts of multiple types of extreme events across several domains in Europe, to reveal corresponding impact signatures. We characterize the distinct impacts of droughts, floods, heat waves, frosts and storms on a variety of biophysical and social variables at national level and half-monthly time scale. We find strong biophysical impacts of droughts, floods, heat waves and frosts, while public attention and property damage are more affected by storms and floods. We show unexpected impact patterns such as reduced human mortality during floods and storms. Comparing public attention anomalies with impacts across all other considered domains we find that attention on droughts is comparatively low despite the significant overall impacts. Resolving these impact patterns highlights large-scale vulnerability and supports regional extreme event management to consequently reduce disaster risks.

Environmental Research Letters