Thursday, January 14, 2021

Climate change has caused billions of dollars in flood damages

A measurable effect of global warming is that the amount of moisture in the air has increased, so when conditions are right, this will allow for more intense precipitation.


News Release 11-Jan-2021
Stanford University


In a new study, Stanford researchers report that intensifying precipitation contributed one-third of the financial costs of flooding in the United States over the past three decades, totaling almost $75 billion of the estimated $199 billion in flood damages from 1988 to 2017.


Together, these analyses revealed that climate change has contributed substantially to the growing cost of flooding in the U.S., and that exceeding the levels of global warming agreed upon in the United Nations Paris Agreement is very likely to lead to greater intensification of the kinds of extreme precipitation events that have been most costly and devastating in recent decades.


Applying this framework, the research team found that - when totaled across all the individual states - changes in precipitation accounted for 36 percent of the actual flooding costs that occurred in the U.S. from 1988 to 2017. The effect of changing precipitation was primarily driven by increases in extreme precipitation, which have been responsible for the largest share of flooding costs historically.

"What we find is that, even in states where the long-term mean [average] precipitation hasn't changed, in most cases the wettest events have intensified, increasing the financial damages relative to what would have occurred without the changes in precipitation," said Davenport, who received a Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship in 2020.

[In states where the average precipitation did not increase, but the wettest events have intensified, that would imply that times between precipitations were longer.]


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