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Seismometers eavesdrop on glacial outburst flood

On July 5, 2016, a previously dammed glacial moraine in Nepal burst, releasing 100,000 tons of water that barreled down the Sunkoshi River, destroying bridges, hydropower plants and roads in its path. The flood was so massive that ground shaking was felt throughout the river corridor and recorded by seismometers deployed in the wake of the April 2015 Ghorka earthquake.

22 Feb 2019

Comment: Faster flood forecasting to improve responses

High-resolution weather models can generate very accurate forecasts, but they take time to run — time that may be needed to safely respond to a rapidly unfolding weather disaster. The authors examine the tradeoffs between accuracy and timeliness in flood forecasting.

06 Feb 2019

Night lights reveal that people move as rivers rise

Flooding is one of the most damaging natural hazards, so it’s no surprise that many people resettle farther from rivers after catastrophic flooding. A new study finds that the distance that people move from a given river depends on the degree of flood protection in place, with people rebuilding closer to rivers that offer high levels of structural flood protection, such as levees and dams, than they do to rivers without such protections.

28 Dec 2018

Dutch Masters: The Netherlands exports flood-control expertise

Since the 13th century, the low-lying Netherlands has been developing innovative water management techniques and technologies, including recent projects like the Delta Works, the Zandmotor and Room for the River. Now, facing global sea-level rise, flood-prone coastal cities in the U.S., like New Orleans and New York, and elsewhere around the world, are calling on the Dutch to teach them how to hold back the sea. 
15 Oct 2018

Comment: Out of bounds: Rethinking U.S. flood risk delineation

The 100-year floodplain — the area of land projected to be covered by water during a flood event that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year — has become the primary mechanism for determining flood insurance premiums and conveying flood risk, but perhaps it shouldn’t be.

04 Sep 2018

Natural solutions could save $50 billion in Gulf Coast flood damages

As coastal development skyrockets and the effects of climate change escalate, flooding is becoming an increasingly common threat. A new statistical analysis of the costs and benefits of various coastal protection methods along the U.S. Gulf Coast suggests communities could prevent a significant amount of flood damage by implementing a combination of natural defenses and built infrastructure.

10 Aug 2018

Charting 500 years of Mississippi floods

The Mississippi River is notorious for flooding its muddy banks, with many critical areas actively managed by the Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding. But despite all the controls, major floods still occur. 

01 Aug 2018

No river meant no floods for ancient Indus settlements

Large Middle Eastern rivers like the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates and Tiber were critical for the development of early urban societies in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Ancient Rome. And researchers have long thought that the rise, and eventual decline, of cities in the ancient Indus Civilization, which spread across about 1 million square kilometers of what’s now northwestern India and Pakistan from roughly 4,600 to 3,900 years ago, also depended on major rivers, namely those emerging from the Himalayas. But a new study looking at river sediments from the time of the civilization and earlier suggests that wasn’t the case for every ancient Indus city; some may have benefited from being farther away from large rivers and their periodic floods.

01 Apr 2018

Both urban flooding and rural drying to intensify

In a comprehensive global analysis, including data from more than 43,000 rainfall stations and 5,300 river monitoring stations in 160 countries, researchers report that global rainfall is increasing, likely due to warming air temperatures that allow more moisture into the atmosphere, causing more intense rainfall. Rural areas tend to absorb excess water during storms, preventing widespread flooding in rural zones, but between storms, rising temperatures also mean more evaporation from exposed soils, creating drier conditions over the long term, the team noted in Scientific Reports. Meanwhile, in urban environments, more intense rainfall often overwhelms stormwater catchments in places with less exposed soil, leading to a higher incidence of flooding.

11 Dec 2017

Magnetic method dates glacial floods in Iceland

In Iceland, volcanoes buried under glaciers occasionally melt huge quantities of ice, setting off massive glacial floods called jökulhlaups. Dating past jökulhlaups helps geologists better understand the eruptive history of Iceland’s many active volcanoes, which, in turn, sheds light on future volcanic hazards. But such dating is no easy task. A new study of magnetic minerals preserved in large boulders moved by floodwaters might provide a new tool in the effort.

07 Jul 2017