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Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters > Disaster risk

28 Oct 16 12:28

Clustering of European winter storms has been a hot topic for a while now. We released our study on the topic just a few days ago. The key finding? After one strong winter storm, Europe is likely to face more in the same season.

Other (re)insurers have also invested in researching the clustering of European winter storms. Studies have focused on extending the historical view further back in time or clustering in simulations of a specific climate model. So what makes ours different?

We combined and extended the two approaches. And to the best of our knowledge, we had the most comprehensive and most variable data set to hand to study clustering.

First, we extended our historical catalogue of European storms 140 years back in time, into the late 19th century. This helped us put more recent storm clusters like the 1990 or 1999 season into a broader perspective. It also meant we could identify discrepancies in terms of clustering.

For us, having a 140-year catalogue was still not enough to assess the risk of extreme seasons though. We thought it wise to consider climate model simulations as well. The data we used added up to almost 7000 simulated storm seasons. It's meant we could analyse severe seasons with much more confidence. And the spatial coverage of the models has helped us to see regional differentiation as well.

Of course, I realise climate models have their biases. That's why we didn't just use the one climate model. A multi-model ensemble is generally much more consistent with reality than a single model. It also lets you quantify the uncertainty of the results (e.g. return period estimates for the loss levels of historical cluster seasons).

The results of our study allows insurers to address storm clusters from their perspective. We want our clients to have the resilience to withstand the next cluster strike! Tackling such uncertainty is part of our daily work. Let me know your thoughts on our new study, and how it could help you in your endeavour.

Category: Climate/natural disasters: Disaster risk, Floods/storms

Location: Europe

1 Comment

Urs Leimbacher - 28 Oct 2016, 7:04 p.m.

Thank you, Dominik. With your new study you and your colleagues add another piece of fresh insight to our understanding of European winter storms - one of the biggest insurance risks globally. And very timely, too, as winter approaches.

A very nice example of how Swiss Re's insights and research can help our clients to better understand potentially hidden risks in their portfolios.

That's being smarter together!

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