Study: More are moving into high flood zones, increasing risk

Since 1985, the number of settlements in the world's riskiest flood zones has increased 122%.


World News

October 4, 2023 - 2:37 PM

A person attempts to walk along a flooded sidewalk on Coney Island Avenue amid a coastal storm on Sept. 29, in New York’s Flatbush neighborhood. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/TNS

Far more people are in harm’s way as they move into high flood zones across the globe, adding to an increase in watery disasters from climate change, a new study said.

Since 1985, the number of the world’s settlements in the riskiest flood zones has increased 122%, compared to 80% for the safest areas, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature by researchers at The World Bank. The authors looked at settlement extent and expansion using satellites instead of population, with the world’s built-up regions growing 85% overall from 1985 to 2015.

“People are on a search for better lives and better jobs and then sort of get stuck in bad lands because that’s what they can afford,” said study co-author Stephane Hallegatte, a World Bank senior climate adviser and expert on disaster economics. He said they know it’s dangerous when they arrive.