EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Object-based flood risk modelling of the European road network: physical damage and mobility disruptions

Ana Laura Costa1, Elco Koks2, Kees van Ginkel1,2, Frederique de Groen1, Lorenzo Alfieri3, Francesco Dottori3, Luc Feyen3, and Thomas Bles1
Ana Laura Costa et al.
  • 1Deltares, Delft, The Netherlands (,,,
  • 2Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands (,
  • 3Joint Research Centre European Commission, Ispra, Italy (,, )

River flooding is among the most profound climate hazards in Europe and poses a threat to its road transport infrastructure. Traditional continental-scale flood risk studies do not accurately capture these disruptions because they are typically grid-based, whereas roads are relatively narrow line elements which are therefore omitted. Moreover, these grid-approaches disregard the network properties of roads, whereas the costs of reduced mobility could largely exceed the costs of the physical damage to the infrastructure.

We address these issues by proposing and applying an improved physical damage assessment coupled with the assessment of mobility disruption for a comprehensive risk assessment at a continental level.

In this study, we introduce an object-based, continental scale flood risk assessment of the European road network. We improve the estimates of direct, physical damage, by drawing road network data from OpenStreetMap, while making optimal use of the available metadata. We also introduce a set of road-specific flood damage functions, which are validated for an observed flood event in Germany. The results of this approach are compared to the traditional, grid-based approach to modelling road transport damage.

Next, we showcase how the object-based approach can be used to study potential mobility disruptions. In this study we present how the network data from OpenStreetMap and available metadata can be used to assess the flood impacts in terms of decreased connectivity, that is, increased distance, time and/or costs. The approach is flexible in physical scope, able to address national and continental resilience assessments and provide advice on tipping points of service performance. Furthermore, flexibility is also incorporated in terms of different resilience perspectives including decision-making by the asset owner or the national or trans-national supply chain disruption to a particular economic sector or company.

Finally, the risk assessment is discussed based on applications for the impacts of floods on European roads and the potential to extend to multi-hazard assessments (landslides, earthquakes, pluvial flooding) and other types of critical networks is discussed.  


This paper has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 776479 for the project CO-designing the Assessment of Climate CHange costs.


How to cite: Costa, A. L., Koks, E., van Ginkel, K., de Groen, F., Alfieri, L., Dottori, F., Feyen, L., and Bles, T.: Object-based flood risk modelling of the European road network: physical damage and mobility disruptions, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-21955,, 2020