August 23, 2021

With Global Warming Comes Flooding

In the recent months we have seen an uptick in significant weather related events. From global concerns like the forest fires raging in Greece, to flash floods happening all over the United States in historically dry areas.

Flooding is not an insignificant concern when it comes to developing more clean renewable energy for our future. While sites are engineered in detail to avoid flood zones or low-lying planes, it’s the heavy rainfall that everyone is now looking out for.

There are three types of flooding we primarily come into contact with here in the North East of the United States. You have Coastal flooding along our coastlines, River Flooding in our communities and areas abutting rivers and then Flash Flooding, which takes place in typically dry areas.

 

Flash Flooding
Flash flooding is a rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level, beginning within six hours of the causative event(i.e., intense rainfall, dam failure, ice jam). 
 
River Flooding
River flooding occurs when river levels rise and overflow their banks or the edges of their main channel and inundate areas that are normally dry.
 
Tropical Systems and Coastal Flooding
At any time of year, a storm from over the ocean can bring heavy precipitation to the U.S. coasts. Whether such a storm is tropical or not, prolonged periods of heavy precipitation can cause flooding in coastal areas, as well as further inland as the storm moves on shore.

 

Climate change and floods—how they are connected

Floods are made more likely by the more extreme weather patterns caused by long-term global climate change. Extreme floods can be triggered by intense rain, longer duration, close repetition of rain or any combination of these. Rising global temperatures will mean more rain.  

With higher temperatures, we have more energy in the Earth’s system. Higher ocean water temperatures and air temperatures increase the possibility for evaporation and therefore cloud formation. 

At higher temperatures, the air can hold more moisture content. This can lead to an increase in rain intensity, duration and/or frequency. Our global temperature in January was the highest ever on record.

 

 

What can we expect?

Extreme flooding will continue to be concentrated in regions where communities have built on floodplains or low-lying coastal regions. As global warming increases the likelihood for more extreme weather events to occur, risks of flooding will expand beyond high-risk areas to areas previously considered flood free. More extreme flooding must be expected, and for the towns and cities where flooding has already occurred, theirs will no longer be a ‘once in a lifetime’ risk but now far more frequent.

The reality is that this is the world we live in with increased global warming.These record temperatures, record floods are not abnormal, in fact they are the beginning of a new norms, and the new records will continue to be exceeded, year after year.

 

What can we do to prepare ourselves for floods?

Simple tools are available that allow you to empower yourself with the knowledge of your home and communities flood risk. For tech savvy individuals, navigating the FEMA Flood Map Service center is a great way to stay informed as to your local flood risk factors.

Another resource helpful to individuals is Flood Factor, a free online tool that makes it easy for you to find your property’s risk of flooding and understand how flood risks are changing because of a changing environment.

Being knowledgeable about your flood risk factor is a key step to take in making empowered decisions for you in your family in the new age of climate change. The step further is ensuring that you are supporting initiatives that are actively combating the biggest offenders of global warming, which we know to be energy production and consumption.