The UK is among the top 10 countries in the world at greatest economic risk from flooding, according to a new global ranking.
The United Kingdom is ranked seventh highest globally for its economic exposure to flooding, behind the US, China, India, Bangladesh, Germany and Japan, according to an index produced by UK-based risk analysis company Maplecroft.
The findings are part of the firm’s fourth annual Natural Hazards Risk Atlas, which assessed 197 countries on physical and economic exposure to 12 types of natural hazards, including flooding, storm surge, earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, wildfires and volcanoes.
The ranking is produced annually to help companies and insurers identify risks to assets worldwide.
The latest index put the UK 42nd most at risk for physical exposure to flooding, but its high population density and the proximity of commercial centres, property and infrastructure to areas susceptible to flooding means its non-agricultural economic exposure to flooding is the seventh highest in the world.
The ranking comes as Britain has been battered by storms, bringing some of the worst flooding seen in years. And Maplecroft warned that the situation could worsen in the face of climate change.
According to the latest Natural Hazards Risk Atlas, the UK’s economy also faces the world’s highest exposure to extra-tropical cyclones – the type of storm seen over recent weeks – which Maplecroft said are considered the most operationally disruptive and costly natural hazard facing northern Europe.
According to the firm’s results, the UK’s economic output has the world’s highest exposure to the intense storms, followed by Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US.
But despite the high risk, the UK was also found to be one of the best placed countries to weather the impacts of natural hazards, ranking 184th out of 197 in Maplecroft’s Socio-economic Resilience Index, analysed by calculating a country’s capacity to mitigate and manage natural hazard risks.
Despite the UK’s high physical and economic exposure, its resilience to flooding and other natural hazards ranked so highly because of spending power and robust infrastructure and institutions.
Dr Richard Hewston, Maplecroft’s Principal Environment Analyst, said: “Predictions for the UK suggest climate change is likely to boost the frequency of major storms and increase risks to economic output as a result of flooding.
“The future scale of the problem will depend heavily on the government continuing to build resilience and apply resources through flood mitigation and risk management schemes.”
The UK was also ranked 16th globally for its absolute economic exposure to all natural hazards, including earthquakes and tropical cyclones, while Japan, the US, Taiwan, China, and India faced the highest total financial costs from natural hazards.
Maplecroft’s Natural Hazard Risks – Absolute Economic Exposure Index, factors in non-agricultural economic exposure to hazards including seismic risks and tropical cyclones.