Future Flooding: Time to Prepare For Regular Destructive Events?
U.S. coastal flooding that was previously considered a “once in a lifetime” event could start doubling every five years if current trends continue, according to a new study. Is your organization prepared?
According to a study in Scientific Reports, researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey investigated the frequency of extreme water levels along the coastline at 200 coastal areas, and examined it alongside the data of sea level rising scenarios to predict the future rate of flooding events. The findings were startling: extreme water level events that were reached once every 50 years may be exceeded daily along the U.S. coastline before the end of the 21st century.
Specifically the model the researchers developed predicted that before 2050, current extreme water levels transitioned from 50-year events to annual events in 70% of U.S. coastal regions. And before the end of 2100, these extremes were predicted to be exceeded almost daily for 93% of the sites measured.
Low-lying cities like Miami and Honolulu, which currently deal with “nuisance” flooding that blocks roads or backs up drains temporarily, could be dealing with that on a regular basis, forcing residents to either adapt or leave.
Without protective measures, flooding “will continue and get worse until it almost makes some areas impractical to live in because it’s happening so frequently”, researcher Sean Vitousek told Reuters reporters. “When what we consider now as the extreme happens at every high tide – that’s no joke.”