Predicting Drought and Subsidence Risks in France

Our paper, Predicting Drought and Subsidence Risks in France, written with Molly Rose James, and Hani Ali, will appear soon in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.

The economic consequences of drought episodes are increasingly important, although they are often difficult to apprehend in part because of the complexity of the underlying mechanisms. In this article, we will study one of the consequences of drought, namely the risk of subsidence (or more specifically clay shrinkage induced subsidence), for which insurance has been mandatory in France for several decades. Using data obtained from several insurers, representing about a quarter of the household insurance market, over the past twenty years, we propose some statistical models to predict the frequency but also the intensity of these droughts, for insurers, showing that climate change will have probably major economic consequences on this risk. But even if we use more advanced models than standard regression-type models (here random forests to capture non linearity and cross effects), it is still difficult to predict the economic cost of subsidence claims, even if all geophysical and climatic information is available.


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