Climate changes have probably increased the risk of flooding in the US substantially since the mid-20th century!
All you need to know about the changing storm and flooding patterns in the US:
Storm dynamics are changing in the US and a recent study published in the Nature Climate Change addresses the issue. The researchers have utilized historical storm data in the study for future storm pattern predictions. Records on rainfall, sea level, and hurricanes were assessed to conclude the results.
Researchers’ claim storm dynamics have changed by far in the US and the likelihood of a coastal city undergoing severe rainfall and a storm at the same time is far greater than before. If research could figure out which areas are at the most risk then many damages can be prevented.
The rainfall and storm patterns have changed severely since the mid-20th century and the incidence of both at the same time has increased the risk of flooding especially in coastal counties. The risk is substantial especially in those counties where more than 40 percent of the US population resides.
Floods have turned into a top priority natural disaster in the US and although the danger to life is not very high it does cause damage worth thousands of dollars. The US experienced two major floods between 2010 and 2014 and currently the damages by flood in US cost and average of $42000 annually. Therefore research on floods can provide valuable data for preventing floods and even while rebuilding cities.
The researchers’ assessed the phenomenon of ‘Storm surge’ in which water is blown towards the coast, to come up with their conclusions. A ‘Storm surge’ is an event caused by weather events which sees the relationship between the abnormal rise of water during a storm and the heavy precipitation on land, and both of these factors were mainly studied.
Storm surge tends to occur more on the East Coast than the West Coast. The storm surges are followed by heavy rainfall and the reason why they prefer the east Coast is due to the tropical cyclones and hurricanes which have a higher frequency towards the East.
The chances of cities prominently such as the New York City of getting storm surges and heavy rainfall at the same time has increased substantially. The chance has actually doubled for New York City when compared to a storm surge and rainfall chance 60 years ago.
The study is carried out by Carling Hay a geophysicist at Harvard University and Thomas Wahl, an oceanographer at the University of South Florida. According to the co-authors the combination of storm surges and heavy rainfall have increased risks of more flooding and now they are looking into studying their long term affects.
The researchers’ are not sure climate change is the reason for the occurrence of storm surges and heavy rainfall at the same time but it is the next step of their research. However other researchers not related to the study such as Philip Orton, a physical oceanographer at the Stevens Institute of Technology, have identified global warming as the reason behind heavy rainfall and have credited rising sea levels with the increase in coastal floods.
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The research is the first of its kind to address such a vast range of natural disasters and its factors. The broad areas covered by the paper has been deemed as a step in the right direction which will lead to better understanding of the science of how weather has changed and how the US can take measures to prevent or minimize the damages caused by the natural disasters on its coastal areas.