Disaster loss trends

Before we consider the implications of these findings, we should first explore potential reasons for trends within the dataset. As was already noted, our methodology does not normalize for changes in the vulnerability of buildings, nor does our regression control for improved mitigation, such as reducing flood risk. However, there are several clear regional examples of declining loss trends since 1950 that merit comment. In Europe and Japan extensive investments in coastal flood defenses, in particular during the 1960s, have been well documented; the actual losses from events such as Typhoon Vera or the 1953 and 1962 North Sea storm surges would consequently be significantly reduced below the normalized values if they recurred today. For flood in Europe (Figure 12.6), the top three loss years all occurred by 1966 and recent flood years have reached less than half the value of the high-loss years in the first 20 years of the record.

While the record of river flood defense improvements in Europe is more mixed than for coastal defenses against storm surges, in Japan the dense

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