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Four Decades of Increasing Monetary Losses from Floods in Spain
Barredo, J.I., Sauri, D. and Llasat, M.C. 2012. Assessing trends in insured losses from floods in Spain 1971-2008. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 12: 1723-1729.

The authors write that "economic impacts from flood disasters have been increasing over recent decades," but they add that "despite the fact that the underlying causes of such increase are often attributed to a changing climate, scientific evidence points to increasing exposure and vulnerability as the main factors responsible for the increase in losses," citing the studies of Pielke and Landsea (1998), Crompton and McAneney (2008), Pielke et al. (2008), Barredo (2009, 2010), and Neumayer and Barthel (2011).

What was done
Ever curious, however - and possibly looking for exceptions - Barredo et al. examined "the time history of insured losses from floods in Spain between 1971 and 2008," striving to see "whether any discernible residual signal remains after adjusting the data for the increase in the number and value of insured assets over this period of time."

What was learned
The "most salient feature" of Barredo et al.'s findings, as they describe it, was "the absence of a significant positive trend in the adjusted insured flood losses in Spain," which suggests, in their words, that "the increasing trend in the original losses is explained by socio-economic factors, such as the increases in exposed insured properties, value of exposed assets and insurance penetration." And they add that "there is no residual signal that remains after adjusting for these factors," so that "the analysis rules out a discernible influence of anthropogenic climate change on insured losses," which they say "is consistent with the lack of a positive trend in hydrologic floods in Spain in the last 40 years."

What it means
Once again, climate-alarmist fears of more frequent and ferocious floods occurring in a warming world are pretty much laid to rest by the results of Barredo et al.'s study, as well as the many similar findings of numerous other studies of real-world flood non-responses to the recent historical warming of the planet, which climate alarmists claim has been unprecedented over the past thousand or more years. See Floods in our Subject Index for more on this important topic.

Barredo, J.I. 2009. Normalized flood losses in Europe: 1970-2006. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 9: 97-104.

Barredo, J.I. 2010. No upward trend in normalized windstorm losses in Europe: 1970-2008. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 10: 97-104.

Crompton, R.P. and McAneney, K.J. 2008. Normalized Australian insured losses from meteorological hazards: 1967-2006. Environmental Science and Policy 11: 371-378.

Neumayer, E. and Barthel, F. 2011. Normalizing economic loss from natural disasters: A global analysis. Global Environmental Change 21: 13-24.

Pielke Jr., R.A. and Landsea, C.W. 1998. Normalized hurricane damage in the United States: 1925-95. Weather and Forecasting 13: 621-631.

Pielke Jr., R.A., Gratz, J., Landsea, C.W., Collins, D., Saunders, M.A. and Musulin, R. 2008. Normalized hurricane damage in the United States: 1900-2005. Natural Hazards Review 31: 29-42.

Reviewed 23 January 2013