Experts Find Flood Risk to the United States ‘Severely Underestimated’

Source: BBC News/Victoria Gill - December 15, 2017 in Politics

Experts Find Flood Risk to the United States ‘Severely Underestimated’
Photo: Ryan L. C. Quan/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Scientists and engineers have teamed up across the Atlantic to “redraw” the flood map of the US.

Their work reveals 40 million Americans are at risk of having their homes flooded – more than three times as many people as federal flood maps show.

The UK-US team say they have filled in “vast amounts of missing information” in the way flood risk is currently measured in the country.

They presented the work at the 2017 American Geophysical Union meeting.

This mapping project includes areas across the US that are on river floodplains and those at risk of flash floods associated with heavy rainfall.

It focuses on rivers and does not include areas at risk of coastal flooding.

One of the researchers, Oliver Wing PhD from the University of Bristol in the UK and part of the flood-mapping organisation Fathom, spoke to BBC News ahead of this international gathering of Earth and planetary scientists. He said the new maps were based on “cutting edge science”, simulating every river catchment area.

The biggest issue, Mr Wing explained, is the how incomplete the network of river gauges is in the US.

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