Natural Resources, School of



Heidi Kreibich, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ)
Anne F. Van Loon, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Instituut voor Milieuvraagstukken
Kai Schröter, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ)
Philip J. Ward, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Instituut voor Milieuvraagstukken
Maurizio Mazzoleni, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Instituut voor Milieuvraagstukken
Nivedita Sairam, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ)
Guta Wakbulcho Abeshu, University of Houston
Svetlana Agafonova, Lomonosov Moscow State University
Amir AghaKouchak, University of California, Irvine
Hafzullah Aksoy, İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi
Camila Alvarez-Garreton, Centro de Ciencia del Clima y la Resiliencia (CR)2
Blanca Aznar, Operations Department
Laila Balkhi, Global Institute for Water Security
Marlies H. Barendrecht, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Instituut voor Milieuvraagstukken
Sylvain Biancamaria, Universite Paul Sabatier Toulouse III
Liduin Bos-Burgering, Deltares
Chris Bradley, University of Birmingham
Yus Budiyono, Badan Pengkajian dan Penerapan Teknologi
Wouter Buytaert, Imperial College London
Lucinda Capewell, University of Birmingham
Hayley Carlson, Global Institute for Water Security
Yonca Cavus, T.C. Beykent Üniversitesi
Anaïs Couasnon, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Instituut voor Milieuvraagstukken
Gemma Coxon, University of Bristol
Ioannis Daliakopoulos, Hellenic Mediterranean University
Marleen C. de Ruiter, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Instituut voor Milieuvraagstukken
Claire Delus, Université de Lorraine
Mathilde Erfurt, Universität Freiburg
Giuseppe Esposito, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Didier François, Université de Lorraine
Frédéric Frappart, INRAE
Jim Freer, University of Bristol
Natalia Frolova, Lomonosov Moscow State University
Animesh K. Gain, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Manolis Grillakis, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas
Jordi Oriol Grima, Operations Department
Diego A. Guzmán, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana
Laurie S. Huning, University of California, Irvine
Monica Ionita, Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Maxim Kharlamov, Lomonosov Moscow State University
Elliot Wickham, University of Nebraska-LincolnFollow
et al.

Document Type


Date of this Version



Nature, Vol 608, 4 August 2022 doi:10.1038/s41586-022-04917-5


Open access


Risk management has reduced vulnerability to floods and droughts globally1,2, yet their impacts are still increasing3. An improved understanding of the causes of changing impacts is therefore needed, but has been hampered by a lack of empirical data4,5. On the basis of a global dataset of 45 pairs of events that occurred within the same area, we show that risk management generally reduces the impacts of floods and droughts but faces difficulties in reducing the impacts of unprecedented events of a magnitude not previously experienced. If the second event was much more hazardous than the first, its impact was almost always higher. This is because management was not designed to deal with such extreme events: for example, they exceeded the design levels of levees and reservoirs. In two success stories, the impact of the second, more hazardous, event was lower, as a result of improved risk management governance and high investment in integrated management. The observed difficulty of managing unprecedented events is alarming, given that more extreme hydrological events are projected owing to climate change3.