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Volume 596 Issue 7870, 5 August 2021

High and rising

Flooding affects more people than any other environmental hazard — and the risk of floods is growing. In this week’s issue, Beth Tellman and her colleagues reveal the extent of rising flood exposure by combining satellite images with population data to develop the Global Flood Database. Covering 913 large floods between 2000 and 2018, the database uses 12,719 daily satellite images with a resolution of 250 metres. The researchers found that between 250 million and 290 million people were directly affected by the floods and that the proportion of population residing in flood-affected areas grew by nearly one-quarter in the period 2000 to 2015. Climate-change projections suggest this proportion will rise still further by 2030, with at least 57 countries expected to see substantial increases in the percentage of their population exposed to floods — as illustrated by the floods in China this year (pictured). The team suggests that the flood database could help inform planning and adaptation strategies to mitigate potential future problems.

Cover image: China Daily via Reuters

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