Europe drought leading to more property damage: study

Jul 04, 2011
Cracked mud is pictured at sunrise in the dried shores of Lake Gruyere affected by continous drought near the western Switzerland village of Avry-devant-Pont. Increasing occurrences of drought have led to a jump in European insurance claims for damage to homes owing to subsiding soil, a study by reinsurer Swiss Re and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology said.

Increasing occurrences of drought have led to a jump in European insurance claims for damage to homes owing to subsiding soil, a study by reinsurer Swiss Re and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology said on Monday.

With temperatures set to rise in coming years and less regular amid climate change, future potential losses from movements are expected to increase in some areas by over 50 percent for the period 2021 to 2040 compared to today, said the study.

"A long and intense dry spell can lower the ground so much that it creates fissures in the earth and tears apart the foundations of houses, bridges, industrial sites and other structures," explained the research.

"In the worst case, shifting soil can cause whole buildings to collapse," it said.

Large swathes of France, Britain, Germany as well as northern Spain are already now showing jumps of more than 50 percent in potential claims compared to the period 1951 to 1970.

"In France alone, from soil subsidence have risen by over 50 percent since 1990, amounting to an average of 340 million euros ($494 million) a year," said the study.

"Climate change will further increase the frequency and intensity of drought-induced soil subsidence -- and with it the risk of future damage to properties.

"Large parts of Europe will experience more sporadic rainfall and drier soils, and as a result face far greater losses from shifting soil," it warned.

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rwinners
not rated yet Jul 04, 2011
Well geez. In Alaska, US, native peoples are already loosing their land and homes to the melting of the perma-frost. Climate change has been happening for a number of years now.
When your subsoil becomes mud, your house gets wobbly. When your subsoil becomes extremely dry, same problem.
However, there is one difference. The melting point of water is known.
The effects of soil shrinkage due to evaporation of water from it is not. And it isn't going to be simple either. Different soil types hold more or less water. And in either case, diffent materials are more or less sticky.
How about some data on this one?
rwinners
not rated yet Jul 04, 2011
Is there a simple lesson to be learned here?
Yep.
Don't build on mud.
Magnette
not rated yet Jul 05, 2011
Is there a simple lesson to be learned here?
Yep.
Don't build on mud.


That doesn't leave very much else in the way of surface to build on...it's all mud, just different types.
Where I live my house foundations are set on clay, when it dries out we end up with very wide cracks all over the gardens.

I'm not saying their evidence about the droughts is incorrect as it obviously isn't, especially here in parts of the UK, but their quote of a 50% rise in potential claims as compared to the 1951 - 1970 period is quite possibly because just about everyone with a property nowadays has them insured whereas back in the 50's/60's/70's it was more unusual to have property insurance unless you were wealthy.
They need to include a comparison of the number of properties insured to give a more accurate figure.