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Andreas Persson

Andreas Persson

Senior lecturer

Andreas Persson

Paradigm shift in engineering of pluvial floods: From historical recurrence intervals to risk-based design for an uncertain future


  • Salar Haghighatafshar
  • Per Becker
  • Steve Moddemeyer
  • Andreas Persson
  • Johanna Sörensen
  • Henrik Aspegren
  • Karin Jönsson

Summary, in English

Precipitation is intrinsically associated with high uncertainty, which is exacerbated exponentially over time—especially concerning climate change. However, the current design practice in urban drainage infrastructure remains firmly bound to deterministic assumptions regarding the design load. This approach is too simplified—focusing only on the return period of the design event—and ignores the complexity of drainage systems and the potential changes in catchment hydrology and the at-risk valuable assets within. Therefore, the current design approach is inherently an unsustainable practice that cannot deal with extreme uncertainties associated with urban drainage and flood resilience in changing climate and society. This paper examines the current deterministic design practice and encourages a collective discussion on the need for a paradigm shift in the engineering of pluvial floods toward a risk-based design. We believe that adopting a risk-based design will partially address the uncertainty and complexity of climate and urban drainage, respectively, although a method for the new practice in a risk-based design paradigm must be developed.


  • Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety
  • Centre for Geographical Information Systems (GIS Centre)
  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
  • Division of Water Resources Engineering

Publishing year





Sustainable Cities and Society



Document type

Journal article




  • Infrastructure Engineering


  • pluvial floods
  • urban flood risk
  • drainage infrastructure
  • climate change
  • deterministic design
  • probabilistic design




  • Sustainable Urban Flood Management


  • ISSN: 2210-6707