The small floods, also known as “Nuisance flooding,” that have been plaguing our streets and sometimes even our homes around the Gulf of Mexico will double every decade thanks to the small rises in sea level. The global rises are so bad that according to a recent study published in the Scientific Reports journal, lower regions in the tropics like South America and Africa could face up to twice the amount of extreme flooding seen in the previous years.
A hurricane rather than sea level rises will remain Louisiana’s biggest danger when it comes to that sort of severe flooding, but nuisance flooding is no small deal. This sort of small flooding can degrade drainage and sewer systems, contaminate drinking water supplies, damage buildings and disrupt transportation and commerce. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that small coastal floods have been happening two to three times more frequently than just 20 years ago. This allows more common storm events to become more impactful.
The reasons behind how the sea level rises affect flooding are diverse, to say the least. Rising levels alter water depths, tides, and storm surges which are a cause and effect to coastal flooding. The low-lying part of coastal Louisiana is particularly in danger with a sea rise as well as a sinking landscape, a combination known as relative sea level rise.
With the overall climate change and melting ice caps, global sea levels will increase up to 4 to 8 inches by the year 2050. The tropics and other parts of the world will have to face a large number of extreme flooding events, and will no doubt damage the economy of those coastal cities as well as livability in the low-lying Pacific Islands. It takes just 5 to 10 centimeters to double the flood frequency. With those statistics, it’s safe to say this regional flooding in the Gulf Coast is a no-nonsense nuisance and isn’t going anywhere.