A recent study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of South Florida has revealed that some of the major U.S. cities along the coastal line are at a serious risk of flooding in the next few decades. The researchers believe that the “triple threat” associated with climate change is the reason behind the increased risk.
Researcher Steven Mayers and his team claim that co-occurrence of the three phenomena associated with climate change – high rainfall, storm-surge and rise in the sea level – will put the places along the U.S. coastline at risk of “compound flooding.” The list of places include Houston, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and Boston.
In the study, which was published in the Nature Climate Change journal, researchers found that scientists who traditionally analyze heavy rainfall and storm surge end up underestimating the risk of flooding in the U.S. Mayers and his team said that the scientists who traditionally analyze storm surge and heavy rainfall to assess the risk of flooding tend to underestimate the actual flood risk by not considering compound events.
“Usually it requires an extreme storm surge to cause flooding or an extreme rainfall event," researcher Thomas Wahl said. "But the combination of two events that are not really extreme on their own may cause larger damages than one of the two events alone."
Researchers emphasized that the risk of flooding in low-lying coastal area in the U.S. is far greater when heavy precipitation takes place along with storm surge against the risk when each phenomenon takes place in isolation. In addition, the team says that understanding the effect of compound flooding is necessary to ensure that all disaster preparedness and mitigation plans are in place.
It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population resides in coastal areas. In such places, flooding has already proved disastrous, resulting in a massive damage.