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Over time, nuisance flooding can cost more than extreme, infrequent events

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Posted: 21 Feb 2017 12:07 PM PST ScienceDaily see full article here

Global climate change is being felt in many coastal communities of the United States, not always in the form of big weather disasters but as a steady drip, drip, drip of nuisance flooding. These smaller events can actually be more expensive overall, researchers report

“Catastrophic storms get a lot of media attention and are studied, but we wanted to know more about the non-extreme events,” said Amir AghaKouchak, UCI associate professor of civil & environmental engineering and co-author of a new study on cumulative hazards in the American Geophysical Union journal Earth’s Future…..

Climate change is driving the growth of cumulative hazards, they noted. A full moon on a clear night triggering higher tides is now enough to cause flooding, because ocean levels are so high. “The frequency is increasing because of sea level rise,” AghaKouchak said. “We call it clear-sky flooding. There’s no rain, but if you have a higher-than-usual tide, you get flooding in these coastal areas.”

While not catastrophic at the time, these episodes degrade infrastructure and can damage roads and building foundations. More immediately, nuisance flooding forces municipalities to expend resources to pump water out of streets. Communities suffer school closures, traffic interruptions, and reverberating waves of cost and inconvenience. Degraded sewer infrastructure results in heightened public health risks….

Hamed R. Moftakhari, Amir AghaKouchak, Brett F. Sanders, Richard A. Matthew. Cumulative hazard: The case of nuisance flooding. Earth’s Future, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/2016EF000494

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