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Research anticipates rise in nuisance flooding in coastal communities

University of Delaware/Delaware Sea Grant


New research says sea level rise could cause more minor, so-called "nuisance flooding" days in coastal communities like Delaware's.

A study recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters projected looked at that potential increase from now until 2050.

Co-author Amir AghaKouchak of UC-Irvine says depending on location, the amount nuisance flooding will vary, from as low as 10 percent to as high as 270 percent.


“But on average, about 80 percent change in [the rate of] sea level rise will result an average 55 percent increase in nuisance flooding events," said AghaKouchak.

In September, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration singled out the city of Lewes in a report on nuisance flooding. They said some mid-Atlantic towns could see a record number of flood days due to sea level rise and El Nino weather patterns, with 41 days possible in Lewes.

“That is quite a lot of days during the year where you’ll see nuisance flooding, where you’ll see a lot of water standing on roads," said Susan Love, head of DNREC's Climate and Sustainability Section.

Love says that even though nuisance flooding events are mostly just annoying occurrences, the projected increases definitely warrant concern.

And records taken from a tide gauge in Lewes show an escalation in nuisance flooding days, too. In the last 50 years, the town has seen a more than 300 percent increase in average nuisance flood days a year, from about 5 days up to more than 22.


The exact projections for the future are subject to change, as scientists like Amir AghaKouchak continue to analyze climate and emissions data. His research does suggest, though, that coastal towns like Lewes should be prepared for more water on the ground in the coming years.


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