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Flooding

Written By: - Date published: 12:37 pm, June 23rd, 2013 - 86 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, global warming, water - Tags: ,

As the atmosphere warms it holds more moisture – and thus rainfall gets heavier. Here are some recent headlines, taking hurricane Sandy as a starting point.

Sandy:

Hurricane Sandy’s Waters Flood Blacked-Out New York City
How Hurricane Sandy flooded New York back to its 17th century shape as it inundated 400 years of reclaimed land

Europe:

Record rains trigger deadly floods, landslides throughout central Europe
Record floods continue in North and Central Europe
Pictures: Worst Floods in European History?
Fears grow for record flood levels in central Europe
Hungary braces itself for ‘worst floods of all time’
Floods in central Europe continue to create havoc
Europe floods: Hungary Danube set for record high

Britain:

Extreme Weather: Flash floods Cause Chaos across Britain; Emergency Services in meltdown; Claims to cross USD 4 billion
UK braced for yet more flooding with 76 serious flood warnings in place, including 13 in already-saturated Yorkshire

Droughts and floods now the norm for Britain with worst to come
Is British weather THAT bad? Emergency summit to discuss UK’s floods and droughts
A future Scotland could be awash with climate problems
Wales’ weather ‘may get wetter’, warns climate expert on flooding anniversary
UK Weather: Met Office Predict Wet Summers For The Next 10 Years

India:

Floods, Landslides Devastate Northern India
Indian floods: thousands evacuated, but deaths toll likely to rise, says minister
Monsoon Floods Kill Nearly 600 in India
Indian floods sweep away villages near holy site, leaving at least 575 dead

Canada:

Canada Floods 2013: Rising Waters May Force 100,000 From Their Homes
At least two dead after floods hit vast area of western Canada
Saskatchewan flooding: More than 2,000 people fleeing floodwaters
Flooding kills three forces 75000 from Calgary homes
Canada’s oil capital to be shut for days after flooding

Australia:

Australians Flee Deadly Floods
Cyclone causes widespread flooding in eastern Australia
Thousands Evacuated as Flooding Hits Eastern Australia
Flooding forces mass evacuation in New South Wales
Australia seeks Army’s help to tackle flood crisis, thousands evacuated
Study predicts more major flooding in north Australia and Tasmania

World:

Peru, Chile and Bolivia hit by record floods, after heavy rain: 6 dead
World Bank to Help Cameroon Recover from Major Floods and Resume Rice Production
Somalia: Floods – Apr 2013
Flooding and a Changing Climate in Mozambique
Zimbabwe: Deadly Floods Destroy Homes But Not Hope
Fatal Floods Hit Ecuador
Photos: Jakarta Hit By Heavy Flooding
Two dead in Fiji floods
China Floods
Record flooding ravages midwestern US
Two dead, hundreds rescued in US floods

New Zealand:

Nelson floods create havoc
Tasman Floods: What you need to know
Floods: Nelson residents assess damage
Snow, flooding continues in Canterbury
Major flooding in Christchurch
Flooding chaos continues in Christchurch
VIDEOS: Heavy rain causes South Island flooding
Flooding strikes North Otago and Canterbury
Otago experiences worst flooding in years
Major surface flooding around Wellington City
Wild weather cuts off West Coast
Flooding north of Wellington
Flooding risk for Auckland
Flood warnings for Thames, Auckland drivers
Flash flood damages several Auckland homes
Worst flooding in close to 40 years

Conclusions are left as an exercise for the reader.

86 comments on “Flooding”

  1. muzza 1

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10892191

    Indonesia’s national disaster agency said two helicopters with cloud-seeding equipment were sent yesterday from Jakarta and Borneo island to Riau province, where hundreds of hectares of carbon-rich peatland are ablaze.

    “Hopefully, we will be able to create artificial rain today,” said agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho

    • Te Reo Putake 1.1

      What’s your point?

      • muzza 1.1.1

        R0b has created an article, consisting of a tremendous number of links.

        I posted a comment in response, with a single link!

        Edit – Excellent links, R0b

        • Populuxe1 1.1.1.1

          Um, cloud seeding isn’t exactly a big secret – but it usuallydoesn’t work very well.

        • Te Reo Putake 1.1.1.2

          What’s your point?

          • muzza 1.1.1.2.1

            Pop – Cloud seeding has been going on for over 100 years, so how would you know if it worked well or not, or what else has been developed over that time span! Put some elbow into it fella, its not difficult. Think of it this way, cars were in their infancy back then, “We’ve come a long way baby”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Hatfield

            Voice – My point is the same as Robs article, can you work that one out!

            • Te Reo Putake 1.1.1.2.1.1

              What’s your point?

              • Jim Nald

                Good question.

                As an aside, it will be interesting to see how the amount of actual rainfall will differ from that which had been recorded in places like Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia from November onwards.

                At the moment, they are starting to move into their seasonal dry weather that runs from June to October.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Amazing collection of links r0b.

  3. Poission 3

    Der Spiegel has an interview with Von Storch and on problems with flooding issues,

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-hans-von-storch-on-problems-with-climate-change-models-a-906721.html

    There are definite problems with infill housing and over paving etc,in metropolitan areas in NZ and reduction in stormwater maintenance ,construction on flood plains etc.

  4. Populuxe1 4

    Bollocks. It’s nothing new, it’s just the news gets around quicker.
    Lest we forget: here’s a good list
    http://amog.com/offbeat/ready-swim-worlds-worst-floods-history/

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.1

      Dream on Pops.

      There is a clear climate footprint visible in insurance claims: payouts due to earthquakes and other geologic events are static but there is a clear rising trend for payouts due to weather and climate related events.

      • Populuxe1 4.1.1

        Insurance against earthquake is very different to and not as common as insuring against weather events. Hence the difference in trend, which has since the Christchurch earthquake changed dramatically.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.1.1.1

          Drivel. Explain the upward trend in weather-related payouts.

          • Populuxe1 4.1.1.1.1

            Certainly weather patterns are intensifying due to climate change, but extreme weather events are nothing new. There have been worse events in the past. Global warming didn’t invent weather.

            However there are a number of factors that could contribute to an upwart trend in weather-related payouts (some citation or data would be nice), including expansion of urban and suburban areas into tornado alleys and flood plains, lower standards of construction etc.

            • weka 4.1.1.1.1.1

              As well as changed in land management. What’s your point though?


              Certainly weather patterns are intensifying due to climate change, but extreme weather events are nothing new. There have been worse events in the past. Global warming didn’t invent weather.

              So? The point is that the events are more extreme, more often, so humans will need to adapt to that. Having a hundred year flood necessitates different planning and actions than having a hundred year flood a couple of times a decade.

              It’s not just about houses getting flooded. Changes in local weather patterns have significant effects on growing food (and other things we need to survive).

              And of course, the point r0b is making is that we should try and take some preventative action at source (ie change our contributions to AGW).

              • muzza

                And of course, the point r0b is making is that we should try and take some preventative action at source (ie change our contributions to AGW).

                I thought R0b stated the article, was for leaving the conclusions to the reader, Weka!

                I would like to read R0b (and others who choose weather related) to engage in some broader subject matter coverage, when writing weather related articles, as opposed to the uni-directional, single faceted, that have been written the past few days.

                Don’t get me wrong, the contribution is appreciated, but time for these hit and run style write ups, to cover some more ground, IMO!

                Have a good one.

                • weka

                  I’m sure that ts would appreciate a well written, thoughtful post contributed by a guest writer muzza.

                  “I thought R0b stated the article, was for leaving the conclusions to the reader, Weka!”

                  This from the front page

                  Noticed a lot of flooding in the world headlines recently? Me too. What’s up with that?

                  I took that as mostly rhetorical ;-)

                • r0b

                  I’m in transit. Will try and “engage” tonight…

                • r0b

                  but time for these hit and run style write ups, to cover some more ground, IMO

                  I post almost every day muzza, I can’t be on call to engage in discussion.

                  However, I will be online now for an hour or two, so if there was something specific you wanted to discuss, let’s go.

                  • r0b

                    Ships that pass in the – ‘night…

                  • muzza

                    Hi R0b,

                    Firstly, and for clarity, I enjoy the articles which are written on this site, and certainly appreciate the time taken by authors to pose angles etc, which are usually not available elsewhere.

                    For me, its about the coverage, and would really appreciate the weather related articles, such as you have posted the past few days, to examine different aspects, of what might be contributing to the the weather patterns we are experiencing.

                    Surely the desire to find understanding involves turning over some rocks, just to see what might crawl out from under them, get people thinking, get them digging also.

                    Its easy for handles on this site, to rubbish links such as I post for geo-engineering, even though its usually only the same names who do so, but it perhaps if yourself, or some of the other authors, decided to have a crack at geo-engineering, or worked it into articles such as this, the debate could open up, which is surely what its all about.

                    Peace.

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.1.1.1.1.2

              Citation provided in the comment “Dream on Pops”.

            • Anne 4.1.1.1.1.3

              Global warming didn’t invent weather.

              Jesus wept.

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      It might be that big floods are happening quicker too. Its the actuarial data which will be revealing.

      Edit OAK beat me to it

  5. Anne 5

    Read Pop’s link. Pitiful stuff from a RWNJ blogger – a kid by the looks of him. About as scientifically reputable as the crazy Lord Monckton…

    Just because there have been flood events throughout the planet’s history doesn’t negate one iota from what is happening to the world’s climate today. What’s worse, a significant portion of it is being caused by human activity and would be avoidable if it wasn’t for greedy and dimwitted right wing nutcases and their equally greedy, dim-witted right wing political representatives who refuse to face up to what is happening.

    • Populuxe1 5.1

      Anne, you seem a bit confused between history and science – this was a list of historical events, not scientific data. You can verify each even if you wish.

  6. Thanks R0b.

    The really terrifying thing is that the window of opportunity is getting smaller and smaller and that the steps that need to be taken are getting more and more extreme. Yet the opponents and the oil companies continue to frustrate action. Makes you despair for the human race.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      As a nation, we could dramatically reduce our ghg emissions but that would mean accepting significant downgrades in lifestyle, consumption and economic activity. No one is willing to face up to actually doing that. Not the electorate, not pollies, not business leaders. So the status quo of business as usual continues.

      • weka 6.1.1

        “So the status quo of business as usual continues, until we are forced to change by the environment and the economic consequences of our actions and inaction”

        fify :-)

      • Jimmie 6.1.2

        Well CV lead by example. Smash your computer, crash your car, throw away your clothes, and don’t eat any food unless you personally harvested it from your vege garden or animals you have raised. (Oh no animals as they fart methane)

        Make some clothes out of flax, go dig some pipi’s with your bare hands, and enjoy travelling around on Shank’s pony and voila you will set an example for the other 6 billion folks to follow.

        Oh and you better go find a cave to live in as you can’t live in a house made by the evil modern building methods.

        • karol 6.1.2.1

          CV said “dramatically reduce”, not give up all technological advances.

          • Jimmie 6.1.2.1.1

            Ah yes he did, however that is so easy to spout forth in an intellectual way however (just as Len Brown has found with utilizing public transport in Auckland) putting into practice in one’s own life is quite inconvenient and more suited for ‘other people’ to practice.

            Think of all the green MP’s tootling up and down the country on Air NZ preaching about the evils of fossil fuels and fracking.

            I mean at least Celia Wade-Brown push bikes to work – setting some kind of example.

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.2.1.2

            What Jimmie doesn’t understand is that reducing consumption actually means looking after the things you have better, so that they last longer, and need replacing less often. His tanty about trashing your belongings is illogical – if you trash your belongings you are discarding the embedded energy which was used to produce those items and bring them to your home.

            His example about Green MPs jetting around the country is also similarly short sighted: if every Green MP were to cease using air travel, how many flights would actually be cancelled saving the fuel? That’s right, none. However if through their advocacy and parliamentary work, a Green MP can convince 10,000 people to stop flying as often – then yes, whole flights will be cancelled, saving actual fuel.

            At the end of the day, re-using and restoring old technology as part of the scavenge economy is going to be crucial in the long term. Think of how Cuba keeps its 1960’s vehicle fleet going and going and going.

        • weka 6.1.2.2

          “Well CV lead by example. Smash your computer, crash your car, throw away your clothes, and don’t eat any food unless you personally harvested it from your vege garden or animals you have raised. (Oh no animals as they fart methane)….”

          As opposed to what? Carry on as we are, using our computers, importing our clothes and food, burning fossil fuels, and then watching our children and grandchildren burn?

          btw, animals farting is only an issue if you industrially farm using a profit-driven model. People raising animals for moderate amounts of meat and dairy in the lives of themselves and their neighbours is not a problem for AGW, esp if they use regenerative agricultural techniques.

  7. Bill 7

    Since flooding generally comes from swollen rivers, I’ve been absently wondering if anyone has been able to work out what any given %age increase in rain over a given area means in terms of rises in river levels.

    I mean, a 4% increase of precipitation over a river’s catchment area leads to much more than a 4% increase in the river’s potential water level….doesn’t it? Which means what, for settlement and infrastucture situated near rivers?

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 7.1

      Hence Riskscape.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      You’d have to work it out for each catchment. I don’t think that kind of complex modelling has been done in NZ. And would it really be useful?

      Although, as pressure to “free up land” in Auckland continues to grow, you can expect less and less suitable land to be considered for housing. Nothing like building on a flood plain.

      • ghostrider888 7.2.1

        conclusions? Conclusion.

      • Bill 7.2.2

        You’d have to work it out for each catchment. I don’t think that kind of complex modelling has been done in NZ. And would it really be useful?

        I realise there are numerous variables and so on. But even an ‘everything else being equal’ type calculation would be useful in terms of comprehension. It’s a bit like the perception people have of tsunamis whereby they think that a 5m tsunami is simply a 5m high wave. When people have it pointed out that they need to take the longitude of the wave into account, their perception and risk assesment changes. Same thing really. Just worth getting people to think about it realistically is all.

  8. johnm 8

    “Climate Change Is Like Atom Bomb, Scientists”
    “The planet has been building up temperatures at the rate of four Hiroshima bombs of heat every second, and it’s all our fault, say climate scientists.

    Hurricane Katrina and superstorm Sandy are just two examples of how extreme weather will intensify, it was reported in Australia’s Climate Action Summit.

    Humans are emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other time in history, says John Cook, Climate Communication Fellow from the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland.

    “All these heat-trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere mean … our planet has been building up heat at the rate of about four Hiroshima bombs every second – consider that going continuously for several decades.”

    http://www.countercurrents.org/cc220613A.htm

    Of course the flooding is a result of Climate Change!

  9. infused 9

    Conclusion: The internet was invented, allowing reporting instantly.

    Shit’s been happening for hundreds of years.

    • ghostrider888 9.1

      this slingshot Global Mode broadband product, essentially, permits New Zealanders to a flood of overseas content, getting around content license-holders.

      • weka 9.1.1

        lolz.

        • ghostrider888 9.1.1.1

          futhermore, in an interesting way, in contrast to Ad’s analysis of the impact of media ranging down from television, newspapers, blogs to tweets, the initiation of the memes / tropes often flow in the reverse direction. :-D

      • weka 9.1.2

        lolz.

  10. Conclusions are left as an exercise for the reader.

    Only one so far: the plural of anecdote is not data.

    • r0b 10.1

      Mmm – data:

      Although extremes in precipitation exist in the climate record on a variety of timescales, evidence is mounting that we are already witnessing the signature of human-influenced global warming in precipitation observations. An upward trend in both the frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events has been found over the United States during the 20th century [12]. A subsequent study of global precipitation gauge records confirmed these positive trends in wet extremes over much of the world [13]. Recently, a careful comparison to observations of multi-model projections of changes in extreme rainfall during the last half of the 20th century suggests that observed increases across more than half of the monitored areas of the Northern Hemisphere can be attributed to increases in greenhouse gases [14]. Drought also appears to be on the increase over the last half century, driven not only by regional downward trends in precipitation, but also by the drying effect on soils of increasing temperatures [15] and the change in timing of spring snowmelt [16].

      [12]Karl, T. R., and R. W. Knight, “Secular Trends of Precipitation Amount, Frequency, and Intensity in the United States,” Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., vol. 79, 1998, pp. 231–241.

      [13] Groisman, P. Ya., R. W. Knight, D. R. Easterling, T. R. Karl, G. C. Hegerl, and V. N. Razuvaev. “Trends in Intense Precipitation in the Climate Record,” J. Climate, vol. 18, 2005, pp. 1326-1350.

      [14] Min, S.-K., X. Zhang, F. W. Zwiers and G. C. Hegerl, “Human contribution to more-intense precipitation extremes,” Nature, vol. 470, 2011, 378–381.

      [15] Dai, A., K. E. Trenberth, T. Qian, “A Global Dataset of Palmer Drought Severity Index for 1870–2002: Relationship with Soil Moisture and Effects of Surface Warming,” J. Hydrometeor, vol. 5, 2004, pp. 1117–1130.

      [16] Barnett, T. P., J. C. Adam, and D. P. Lettenmaier, “Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions,” Nature, vol. 438, 2005, pp. 303-309.

      Can’t get it to embedd, but see (from the same article) this figure.

      • Psycho Milt 10.1.1

        My point wasn’t that such data doesn’t exist. It was that blog posts citing bad weather stories as evidence of climate change invite piss-take responses.

        • weka 10.1.1.1

          At what point can we talk about ‘bad weather’ in a climate change context?

          • Arfamo 10.1.1.1.1

            The point at which it can be statistically proven it’s increasing in intensity (and maybe frequency) globally. We see a lot more of it because of more video clips etc. I get the impression it is, but the weather and climate records and stats need to show it over time scales. Someone posted some proxy data on weather related insurance claims that looked pretty convincing.

            • weka 10.1.1.1.1.1

              Except 30 yrs probably isn’t long enough (the insurance stats).

              If we want to win debates on technical points, then yes let’s wait until it can be statistically proven. In the meantime, those of us that accept that AGW exists, will continue to talk about our environment in the context of that. Most people I know in RL look at extreme weather events and question if that’s CC (not say definitively). That is healthy IMO and may motivate humans to take action sooner.

              • Arfamo

                Agreed. Dunno why just a hunch but I reckon the next five years will clinch it.

              • Colonial Viper

                Even before we are 99.9% sure of man-made climate change, there are a huge amount of other direct benefits from using less energy and from consuming less imported goods shipped around the world to get here.

                Preparing our housing and infrastructure to be resilient against wider swings in weather and climate should be done regardless of whether we are 95% confident or 99.9% confident of climate change.

                There is nothing to lose and much to gain from acting immediately.

              • Most people I know in RL look at extreme weather events and question if that’s CC (not say definitively).

                Are they given to idle and utterly pointless speculation in other aspects of their lives? It must waste a lot of time.

                • weka

                  It’s only pointless if you think that weather and climate (or life for that matter) can only be meaningfully discussed in absolute scientific terms. Meanwhile, in the real world, if we’re having more and more severe floods, it makes complete sense to be asking if these are related to climate change. Or drought. Or whatever. It makes people think about things, and discuss them, and that might lead to people being motivated to change.

                  Otherwise, let’s all sit and twiddle out thumbs while Rome burns and we wait for the scientists to tell us definitively that that fire over there was started by vandals, whereas that one over there started naturally.

                  Unless of course one is blind to Rome burning….

                  • The thing is, Rome’s not burning, is it? Rome’s got some people who are thinking “Gosh I’m sure we’re having more fires than we used to have so the theory about Vandals starting fires must be right.” Well, it could be – but it’s idle speculation until you actually do a statistical analysis and establish that yes there genuinely are more fires, and then you rule out other factors that could explain it (eg, in the case of the flooding that’s the subject of the post, increased defoliation caused by population increase is an obvious other possible factor). Until you do that, going on about all the fires and the need for immediate action against the Vandals invites only ridicule.

  11. rosy 11

    I thought this was an interesting little addition to climate change research

    A report by a Georgia State University researcher found the Clean Air Act of 1970 actually caused more rainfall in metro Atlanta by decreasing pollution. Jeremy Diem, an associate professor of geography at Georgia State, collected data from nine weather stations around Atlanta dating back to 1948.

    He found that in the 1950s and 1960s, heavy summer rainfall decreased in urban Atlanta compared to rural parts of Atlanta.

    “The reason behind this is that the increased air pollution was suppressing rainfall, so it was making the clouds less productive,” Diem said.

    But starting in the late 1970s, he discovered a different trend – more heavy rains. In 1970, the U.S. passed the Clean Air Act, a major environmental law that enforced regulations on pollution.

    Between 1970 and 1975, emissions decreased by approximately 40 percent nationwide.

    The decrease in pollution caused a major rebound in summer rainfalls

    With tongue firmly in cheek – If pollution is decreasing, then increased heavy rainfall… Industrial downturn = less pollution… The GFC caused floods? =:-/ Although I guess there would need to be a corresponding reduction in rainfall in fast-developing nations with increasing pollution levels…it could be interesting to see where this bit of research goes.

    But then again, what else is going on? There is also the bit of research that show rainfall in the tropics will change because the northern hemisphere is warming at a greater rate that the southern hemisphere.

    I’m just adding these to the usual list of suspects to highlight that rainfall and flooding is a pretty big topic.

  12. Chicken Little 12

    The sky is falling !

    • felix 12.1

      That sort of derisive mocking is a bit old hat, Chook.

      The new line is “Yeah the sky is falling, we never really disagreed about that, but it’s too late to do anything about it now so just be quiet about it please”.

      Catch up.

    • Murray Olsen 12.2

      No, but it is filling up with greenhouse gases. Still, considering your level of intellect…..yeah, it’s falling.

  13. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 13

    Are there more floods now than there used to be?

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/natural-disasters/question665.htm

    No.

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