Friday, May 19, 2017

Sharp Rise in Flooding Ahead for World’s Poorest

Residents of Kerala in southern India face sharp increases in the number of floods in the years ahead. (Credit: Thejas Panarkandy/Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Coastal residents of poor and fast-growing tropical countries face rapid increases in the numbers of once-rare floods they may face as seas rise, with a new statistical analysis offering troubling projections for regions where sea level data is sparse.

Stark increases in instances of flooding are projected for Pacific islands, parts of Southeast Asia and coastlines along India, Africa and South America in the years and decades ahead — before spreading to engulf nearly the entire tropical region, according to a study led by Sean Vitousek, a researcher at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

“Imagine what it might feel like to live on a low-lying island nation in the Pacific, where not only your home, but your entire nation might be drowned,” Vitousek said.

The researchers combined a statistical technique used to analyze extreme events with models simulating waves, storms, tides and the sea level effects of global warming.  They created snapshots of the future — flood projections that can be difficult to generate with the limited ocean data available in some places.

“If it's easy to flood with smaller water levels coming from the ocean side, then gradual sea level rise can have a big impact,” Vitousek said.  “For places like the Pacific islands in the middle of nowhere that don’t have any data, we can make an assessment for what’s going to happen.”

The study found that the frequency of formerly once-in-50-year floods could double in some tropical places in the decades ahead.  The findings were published Thursday in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

Read more at Sharp Rise in Flooding Ahead for World’s Poorest

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