Climate Change And Flooding

Inland flooding will also be impacted by climate change. Rainfall patterns are expected to change over the next century, with climate models predicting more heavy-rain events, separated by prolonged periods of dry weather. Much of this will be due to the heating of the atmosphere: warmer air holds more water, raising the potential for a quick release of a large volume of water.

Air pollution will also play a role, as more particu-lates in the atmosphere gives this increased amount of water vapor more condensation nuclei, or seeds, around which they can coalesce. This will increase the incidence of flash flooding and landslides in many areas. So-called "100-year flood plains," literally parts of a flood plain that are only expected to flood once in a century, could expect to see flooding three to six times in a century.

Developing countries will see increased risk of loss of life in severe flood events. In summer 2007, the most intense floods seen in generations hit more than 20 African nations. Over 1.5 million people were displaced and at least 300 killed. Coming at the height of the growing season, the flooding destroyed domestic and export crops, and will exacerbate the region's already severe food insecurity crisis. Meanwhile, more developed nations are planning extensive and costly new flood control systems and sea defenses to help mitigate future flooding.

SEE ALSO: Evaporation and Transpiration; Hurricanes and Typhoons; Monsoons; Rain; Rainfall Patterns; Weather.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. Roger Few, Franziska Matthies, and Sari Kovats, "Floods, Health and Climate Change: A Strategic Review," Tyndall Centre For Climate Change Research, www.tyndall.ac.uk (cited November 2007); D.R. Godschalk, D.J. Brower, and Timothy Beatley, Catastrophic Coastal Storms: Hazard Mitigation and Development Management (Duke University Press, 1989); Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (Cambridge University Press, 2007); Lovgren Stefan, "Warming to Cause Catastrophic Rise in Sea Level?" www. nationalgeorgraphic.com (cited November 2007); Klement Tockner and Jack Stanford, "Riverine Flood Plains: Present State and Future Trends," Environmental Conservation (v.29, 2002); U.S. Geological Survey, www.usgs.gov (cited November 2007).

Heather K. Michon Independent Scholar

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