Study: Extreme floods more likely in the future

GREENVILLE, N.C (WNCT) – A study finds that massive floods could be more commonplace in the future. The study, conducted by researchers at Princeton University, finds record rainfall events and extreme flooding are more likely today compared to decades ago thanks in part to climate change.

“They found that with the greenhouse gas emissions, that led to about a 40% increase in the frequency of events of that type,” explained Tom Rickenbach, an atmospheric science professor at ECU. “And the statistics from 100 years are pretty good so they can say that pretty definitively.”

The theory is that a warmer world has the potential to hold more water and produce more rainfall.

This study focused in on the Gulf Coast region, in particular Louisiana. Even still, some of the findings could translate here to Eastern North Carolina, meaning more caution tape and road blocks from flooding, could be a possibility in the future.

The Louisiana floods in August were caused by a stalled storm system, much like we experienced in the East over the past week. Although the study didn’t look at rainfall in the East, some of the same principles apply.

“The conclusions I think are pretty broadly applicable to this region,: said Rickenbach. “Our climate is not too different from the Gulf Coast climate, our heavy rainfall typically occurs in the summertime, associated with tropical systems.”

How these weather setups happen is not completely understood, but a jet stream that slowly meanders north and south instead of quickly flowing from west to east may have something to do with it.

The flooding in Bertie County is currently not being tied to climate change, but it is expected to be a good case study for researchers.

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