Nature ‘Disastrous floods have caused millions of fatalities in the twentieth century, tens of billions of dollars of direct economic loss each year and serious disruption to global trade. In this Review, we provide a synthesis of the atmospheric, land surface and socio- economic processes that produce river floods with disastrous consequences. Disastrous floods have often been caused by processes fundamentally different from those of non- disastrous floods, such as unusual but recurring atmospheric circulation patterns or failures of flood defences, which lead to high levels of damage because they are unexpected both by citizens and by flood managers. Past trends in economic flood impacts show widespread increases, mostly driven by economic and population growth. However, the number of fatalities and people affected has decreased since the mid-1990s because of risk reduction measures, such as improved risk awareness and structural flood defences. Disastrous flooding is projected to increase in many regions, particularly in Asia and Africa, owing to climate and socio- economic changes, although substantial uncertainties remain. Assessing the risk of disastrous river floods requires a deeper understanding of their distinct causes. Transdisciplinary research is needed to understand the potential for surprise in flood risk systems better and to operationalize risk management concepts that account for limited knowledge and unexpected developments.  Click here to read the paper

Historical information on flash flood events in the UK have been compiled and is available here:

British Chronology of Flash Floods : JBA Trust

This page hosts a database listing flash flood events in Britain derived from historical reports dating back over more than 200 years. The primary purpose of the chronology is to support improved assessments of flash flood risk for a given location and more generally of catchment vulnerability to flash flooding. Flash floods arising from intense rainfall are rare events at a particular location and there may be few if any recent records. A search of a chronology of more than 200 years provides a better basis for assessing the probability of occurrence (Archer et al., 2017) than the limited observations currently available, especially for surface water floods. Click here to access

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