Global Warming and Floods
If it seems like the United States is getting more heavy storms and major floods these days, it's because we are. Global warming is partly to blame for these heavy rainfall events. Because warmer air can hold more moisture, heavier precipitation is expected in the years to come.
In the Midwest and Northeast, big storms that historically would only be seen once every 20 years are projected to happen as much as every 4 to 6 years by the end of the 21st century. At the same time, shifts in snowfall patterns, the onset of spring, and river-ice melting may all exacerbate flooding risks.
Now is the time to confront the realities of global warming, including the increasing frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall events across the country. We need to reduce the risks to riverfront communities. Important steps include discouraging development in flood-prone areas and protecting the natural systems, such as wetlands, that help to buffer against floods.
Recent decades have brought more heavy summer rainfall events along with increased likelihood of devastating floods. While no single storm or flood can be attributed directly to global warming, changing climate conditions are at least partly responsible for past trends. Because warmer air can hold more moisture, global warming is expected to bring more and heavier precipitation in the years to come.
Increased Flooding Risk: Global Warming's Wake-Up call for Riverfront Communities (2.19 Mb)
Listen to the Increased Flooding Risk: Global Warming's Wake-Up call for Riverfront Communities audio file.
Watch more about floods and how global warming plays a part with Dr. Amanda Staudt, NWF's global warming scientist: