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Expanding Paved Areas Has an Outsize Effect on Urban Flooding #Environment
Another deleterious effect of our decades long love affair with concrete. Paved surfaces disrupt the hydrologic cycle and prevent rain from penetrating into the ground. New research shows just how much the effect contributes to flooding. Via Scientific American:
Now a study published in March in Geophysical Research Letters has found that, on average across the U.S., every time a city expands roads, sidewalks or parking lots by one percentage point, the annual flood magnitude in nearby waterways increases by 3.3 percent. (Some of the floodwater that the ground cannot absorb runs into nearby rivers and streams, so measuring their levels can help track changes in flooding severity.) Hydrologist Annalise Blum and her co-authors say the mathematical model they used makes their finding more accurate than previous studies. And it could help answer other questions about human impacts on water systems—an emerging field called sociohydrology.
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The picture is from Ellicott City, Maryland, not far from where I live. They have had two “100 year” floods in recent years, devastating the charming downtown area. Some blame over development of the areas upstream from them, with not enough attention paid to improving drainage.