Study projects more disastrous future flooding events

Written by
Adam Hadhazy, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Feb. 11, 2022

A combination of sea level rise and hurricane storm intensification is projected to spawn more frequent extreme flooding events, a Princeton study has found.

These high intensity floods, called compound flooding events, have impacts much worse than those from storm surge or rainfall alone.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the researchers used physics-based climate and hurricane hazard models and statistical analyses to project a dramatic rise in how often joint 100-year events — that is, events with a 1% chance to happen in any given year, for both rainfall and storm surge, based on their frequency in the historical record — will occur by the year 2100.

“We’ve been learning that as joint hazards, surge and rainfall really should be studied together, and right now that’s where my work is going,” said Ning Lin, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton and senior author of the study. “The current and future joint hazard posed by hurricanes has not been well-quantified, but with this study, we’re now getting a clearer, and unfortunately sobering, picture.”

The researchers hope the findings will help better inform policymakers as well as bolster overall preparedness for the severe storms to come.

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