Contribution of land use changes to future flood damage along the river Meuse in the Walloon region
Managing flood risk in Europe is a critical issue because climate change is expected to increase flood hazard in many european countries. Beside climate change, land use evolution is also a key factor influencing future flood risk. The core contribution of this paper is a new methodology to model residential land use evolution. Based on two climate scenarios ("dry" and "wet"), the method is applied to study the evolution of flood damage by 2100 along the river Meuse. Nine urbanization scenarios were developed: three of them assume a "current trend" land use evolution, leading to a significant urban sprawl, while six others assume a dense urban development, characterized by a higher density and a higher diversity of urban functions in the urbanized areas. Using damage curves, the damage estimation was performed by combining inundation maps for the present and future 100 yr flood with present and future land use maps and specific prices. According to the dry scenario, the flood discharge is expected not to increase. In this case, land use changes increase flood damages by 1–40%, to €334–462 million in 2100. In the wet scenario, the relative increase in flood damage is 540–630%, corresponding to total damages of €2.1–2.4 billion. In this extreme scenario, the influence of climate on the overall damage is 3–8 times higher than the effect of land use change. However, for seven municipalities along the river Meuse, these two factors have a comparable influence. Consequently, in the "wet" scenario and at the level of the whole Meuse valley in the Walloon region, careful spatial planning would reduce the increase in flood damage by no more than 11–23%; but, at the level of several municipalities, more sustainable spatial planning would reduce future flood damage to a much greater degree.