Aleksey Aprishko, Economics, Penn State University
An overflow of usually dry land by water caused by increasing water levels in given waterways for a prolonged time is called flooding (Flood and…, 2015). The increase in water levels can be caused by heavy precipitation events, sea-level rise, or rapid temperature warming, which leads to fast snow melting, creating an excess of water. There are more factors that can change the streamflow in the area, such as deforestation, construction of dams, agriculture, and urbanization, which can all contribute to the flooding of a given area.
Like many cities, Davenport, Iowa, was built along the Mississippi river bank in its floodplain, which makes this city prone to flood-threat. The adjacent river provides local people access to fish and wildlife, water for agriculture, and communication systems for waterborne commerce. However, many significant floods were recorded in the area, resulting from considerable rainfall and snowmelt. Further changes in the region are expected in flood frequency, and it is attributed to the moisture availability and the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean (Wehner et al., 2017). Besides, Davenport is the only major city in the upper Mississippi that does not have a constructed floodwall, which could exacerbate damages during a flood event.
As for the future projections for the area, the increase in participation due to climate change will increase floods frequency and severity, which could overpower current sewer infrastructure. Severe floods could significantly damage the city’s infrastructure and agricultural sector with a substantial cost for recovery, clean up, and relocation operations.
To combat floods in the area, Davenport has implemented limits on urban development near the river, and many buildings were relocated or reinforced to withstand floods. After relocation, the open areas were revamped into 560 acres of parks that can absorb floodwaters (Baurick, 2019). Even with currently implemented policies, the city can not wholly be protected against floods. The only more radical solution left is a complete relocation to more elevated grounds.
Baurick, T. (2019, June 18). For Some Mississippi River Cities, There Are Only 2 Choices – Adapt or Move: The River’s Revenge. NOLA.com. www.nola.com/news/environment/article_f6c788e5-fc7b-5289-bc01-8e66034b3d7a.html.
Flood and Flash Flood Definitions. (2015, August 10). NOAA’s National Weather Service. www.weather.gov/mrx/flood_and_flash.
Wehner, M.F., Arnold, J.R., Knutson, T., Kunkel, K. E., & LeGrande, A. N. (2017). Droughts, Floods, and Wildfires. Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, 1. doi:10.7930/j0cj8bnn.
Leyinzca Bihlajama, Advertising and Public Relations, Strategic Communications, Donald P Bellisario College of Communications
When discussing floods and low lying coastlines, one typically thinks of New Orleans during hurricane Katrina, but we should also reference its neighboring metropolis, Houston. In the last five years alone Houston, Texas has experienced four “once in a century” floods. Flooding in Harris County has been recorded since its founding in 1857, however, a combination of bad infrastructure and changing climate are causing these floods to become more frequent today.
Houston shares many traits with its New Orleans neighbors. The city was established in the Buffalo and White Oak Bayous, consisting of twenty-two interconnected swamps. The city has built a mitigation system, where water from the bayous drains into two main reservoirs when filled (Blackburn, 2017). Naturally, the bayous could absorb much rain, however, a rapidly growing population has led to mass development and filling parts of the bayous (Blackburn, 2017). To a region with clay soil and tropical climate, having reduced means of natural absorption in Houston means greater surface runoff and flooding.
However, the disruption of the bayous is not the only challenge Houston faces. The city is sinking at an average of about two inches a year. The descent is due to subsidence from the over pumping of aquifers (Bendix, 2019). At the city center, Houston’s elevation is only about fifty feet above sea level (CBS News, 2017). Two inches does not seem like a lot, and when you add that to an already low lying region, it can be detrimental, as has been evident in the last decade.
The city of Houston is not only situated in low lying wetlands, but it also borders the Gulf of Mexico. As we have learned from our readings, the North Atlantic waters have increased in temperature due to climate change. The warmer waters have contributed to more powerful coastal systems, with very strong storm surges. This occurrence was unmistakably apparent with Hurricane Harvey in 2017, with storm surge over twelve feet. It goes without saying these events are catastrophic, Harvey incurred over $100 billion in damages and 68 deaths (Huber, 2020).
It is predicted that flooding will only get worse in Houston. Climate change and a growing population depleting the area will eventually lead to complete submersion. Nevertheless, there are several preventative measures the area can take to slow the process down. One initiative that has proven successful is returning the bayous to their natural state and removing developments along its banks. Also, improving infrastructure with future climate changes in mind. Lastly would be educating the public. There have been several attempts at water conservation, with no success. In Texas people want to see a profitable value, before making a change (Friedrich, 2018). Houston needs the support of its residents to make these changes successful.
Bendix, A. (2019, June 08). 7 places that are sinking faster than anywhere else in the US. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/cities-towns-sinking-rapidly-us-2019-6
Blackburn, J., J.D. (2017, December). LIVING WITH HOUSTON FLOODING. Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. https://www.bakerinstitute.org/media/files/files/68acbe10/bi-pub-livingfloodinghouston-120617_kF7klri.pdf
CBS News. (2017, August 28). Why is Houston so prone to major flooding? https://www.cbsnews.com/news/harvey-why-is-houston-so-prone-to-major-flooding/
HARRIS COUNTY’S FLOODING HISTORY. (2020). Harris County Flood Control District. https://www.hcfcd.org/About/Harris-Countys-Flooding-History
Huber, C. (2020, June 14). 2017 Hurricane Harvey: Facts, FAQs, and how to help. World Vision. https://www.worldvision.org/disaster-relief-news-stories/2017-hurricane-harvey-facts.
Friedrich, K. (2018, February 21). How Houston Could Reduce Storm Flooding. Conservation Finance Network. https://conservationfinancenetwork.org/2018/02/21/how-houston-could-reduce-storm-flooding
US Department of Commerce, N. (2019, May 01). Major Hurricane Harvey – August 25-29, 2017. National Weather Service. https://www.weather.gov/crp/hurricane_harvey
Alyssa Butters, Biobehavioral Health, College of Health and Human Development
The topic and community that I have chosen is flooding in Miami, Florida. Miami is located on the eastern side of southern Florida and is a coastal city. Being a coastal city, it is affected by natural disasters such as major hurricanes and tropical storms, but also by the effects of the sea level rising. Sea level rising has many detrimental effects on a coastal city, but the major one that I am going to be looking at is flooding.
According to the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact’s Unified Sea Level Rise Projection, which officials rely on in Miami, the sea level in Miami is projected to rise by 14 to 26 inches by 2060 (Murley, 2021). This is due to its location right on the water, and the climate change effects that are causing melting ice and thermal expansion. Without action to try and combat projected flooding, the New York Times has projected that more than $3 billion dollars of property could be lost due to daily tidal flooding, and that number could increase to $23.5 billion by 2070 (Flavelle & Massei, 2021). This means people’s homes, businesses, and livelihoods could be destroyed if they are located in an area that succumbs to this flooding, something that is already occurring with king tides.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a local solution to stop the sea levels from rising. Instead, cities like Miami must focus on solutions for preparing their cities for these types of events. One major solution has been to build new homes on stilts, protecting the foundation of the home and allowing water to flow underneath the home during flooding events (Murley, 2021). Another solution is to create canals in areas that are most prone to flooding, which would allow for drainage during a flooding event (University of Florida, 2021). A third solution would be to promote the building of new businesses and homes on higher land away from the coast, so that when the flooding does occur, they are not affected.
Flavelle, C., & Mazzei, P. (2021, March 02). Miami Says it Can Adapt to Rising Seas. Not Everyone is Convinced. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/climate/miami-sea-level-rise.html
Murley, J. (2021). Sea Level Rise Strategy. Miami Dade. https://www.miamidade.gov/global/economy/resilience/sea-level-rise-strategy.page
University of Florida. (2021). Canals. Plant Management in Florida Waters – An Integrated Approach. https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/manage/overview-of-florida-waters/waterbody-types/canals/.
Luke Cantrel, Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
The coastal town of Shaktoolik is one of many rural Alaskan communities. Unfortunately, like many other communities, it is endangered by severe flooding, erosion, and coastal storms. Estimates say that the three mile strip of land that is home to Shaktoolik is losing about an acre of land per year due to the flooding and erosion. Additionally, the continued land loss is threatening the village’s power supply and drinking water, which is becoming contaminated by the seawater that flows into it during storms (Goode, 2016). All of these factors create major risks for the inhabitants and their homes.
Shaktoolik is particularly vulnerable to storms and flooding because of its geographic location, primarily, its vicinity to the Arctic. Since the arctic is warming more than any other region on the globe, the sea level is rising rapidly near the village due to the melting of glaciers, which contributes to the land loss and the power of the storms when they arrive. The melting of the offshore ice, in addition to increasing the volume of water, also strips Shaktoolik of the natural shield it normally possesses against coastal storms (Goode, 2016). All of these issues are amplified by the fact that Shaktoolik is a rural and remote community, and thus it is difficult for them to receive aid and external support.
With the sea level rising, and the severity and frequency of coastal storms increasing, the town of Shaktoolik is in danger of being completely destroyed. According to the U.S. Government, Shaktoolik ranks among the top four Alaskan communities that are under impending threat of destruction. Some climate experts also predict that Shaktoolik, along with other nearby Alaskan communities, will be completely uninhabitable within the next thirty years. Even if the village isn’t completely destroyed, it will certainly lose a majority of its land. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the land Shaktoolik rests on will lose almost 50 acres within the next forty years (Goode, 2016).
With this imminent danger, the residents of Shaktoolik have two primary options. The first of which is to relocate to higher ground. The challenges associated with relocation are numerous. It is time consuming, possibly taking decades for the community to fully reestablish itself. During the transition, food and water needs still need to be met and children still need education. Relocation is also quite expensive. The former mayor claimed that they have had difficulty finding funds for a relocation process, since no one wants to invest in a community that is moving away. The other option is fortifying the village. The inhabitants have already built a seven foot tall wall of driftwood to buffer against the waves. However, locals state that it has not been tested and they have also had difficulty acquiring funds for the necessary construction that would be required to properly protect the village (Goode, 2016). Regardless of their choice, it is clear that the residents of Shaktoolik have a significant challenge ahead of them.
Goode, E. (2016, November 29). A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/29/science/alaska-global-warming.html?searchResultPosition=8.
The increasing temperature of the globe is causing very concerning natural disasters that are directly impacted by climate change. One of the alarming effects of climate change is the increased prevalence of extreme weather events, such as: fires, drought, flooding, hurricanes, heat waves, and more. Flooding as a result of climate change is threatening the waterfront city in Norfolk, Virginia (Morrison, 2020). As the Earth warms, glaciers are continuing to melt, causing an increasing sea level which threatens oceanfront communities all around the world. In Norfolk, the community is specifically vulnerable due to how much of the land is surrounded by water, as well as the plentiful streams and rivers that are directly connected to the Atlantic ocean. The water is rising, and is not expected to stop any time in the near future (Morrison, 2020). It is projected that high tide will flood the city both times it hits every single day in about 20 years (Morrison, 2020). One of the major impacts on the community of Norfolk is the members of the community moving further away from water to prevent flooding, which is also called a managed retreat (Morrison, 2020). This will have financial, social, psychological, political, and other consequences for the people in Norfolk. Members of the community are facing difficult decisions about if they want to invest in a house or not due to the flooding that is already occurring and is projected to only get worse (Morrison, 2020). Moving further away from the cost in Norfolk may save families money, safety, and a peace of mind. Infrastructure to prevent flooding has been discussed to prevent damage in the future, but at the cost of billions of dollars (Morrison, 2020). The city of Norfolk would also need to have an extensive plan on how they would fund the flood walls to prevent a flooding city.
Morrison, J. (2020, April 13). After decades of waterfront living, climate change is forcing communities to plan their retreat from the coasts. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2020/04/13/after-decades-waterfront-living-climate change-is-forcing-communities-plan-their-retreat-coasts/?arc404=true
Eathan R. Gottshall
Gabura is a coastal village along the Bay of Bengal in the country of Bangladesh and is a frightening example of the large-scale migrations that climate change and resultant sea-level rise may cause in the near future. Coastal communities in Bangladesh have always dealt with extreme weather patterns and precipitation events, and have been able to cope with the death and destruction these events leave behind. Climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of such events and other indirect effects of climate change such as an increase in river volume with high amounts of sedimentary material leading to major erosion along riverbanks. These changes are reshaping the land beyond the scope of a small community’s ability to adapt, and are forcing migration away from the coast and rivers to the densely populated cities such as Dhaka. These displacement events have continued for the last 10 years in the small country, and continue to displace an average of around 700,000 individuals every year, this number is much higher in years with major tropical storms or cyclones. This is an astonishing number for such a small country, but with rising sea levels, villages like Gabura are experiencing major threats to their livelihoods and a crumbling foundation beneath their feet. One of the migrants from Gabura recounts that their family’s home was destroyed 4 times before the damage to their property was too great, causing the family to become homeless with no resources available to help them. Their only option was to move to a city like Dhaka, but due to the lack of standardized education, the only work available to most of the family is hard labor with few days off. These massive waves of displaced individuals that migrate to cities have cause major issues in essential resource availability, and living conditions are beyond poor, with no public water or electricity in any of the migrant areas. Unfortunately, city officials are reluctant to provide access to these fundamental resources because it will permanently settle the uneducated rural people within the growing industrial city, thinking of their own citizens as no more than a burden. There is hope for people like those in the village of Gabura; many villages are doing their best to prepare for the future displacement by upgrading infrastructure and urban construction in climatically sensitive ways facilitating an environment with necessary facilities and opportunities to entice migrants and grow. Estimates show that by 2050 over 13 million people will be displaced from their homes by the growing impacts of climate change. Many of the individuals from Gabura still mourn the loss of their homes and families, but with the growth and development of climatically sophisticated secondary cities, future generations of migrants may have much better opportunities to thrive.
McDonell, T. (2019, January 24). Climate change creates a new migration crisis for Bangladesh. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/climate-change-drives-migration-crisis-in-bangladesh-from-dhaka-sundabans
Crystal N. Graziano
The threat to the Gerritsen Beach area of the Sheepshead Bay District in Brooklyn, NY is rising sea levels causing flooding of the low-lying zone. The community of Sheepshead Bay is vulnerable because a large majority of its affordable housing units are exposed to the extreme water levels as a consequence of rising sea levels due to climate change. Not only are residential areas affected, but the market areas and industrial areas are also affected (Buchanan et al., 2020). New York City officials released a campaign to deter residents of Brooklyn neighborhoods from flushing their toilets, cutting back on any and all water use during rainstorms to prevent sewage water from backing up into nearby freshwater reserves, such as creeks, rivers and bays(Hu, 2018). The forecasted impacts on the community is that by the 2100’s, the floodplain is expected to increase from a moderate risk to high risk for flooding, with a sea level rise that is greater than the global sea level rise. Infrastructures will need to be raised based on the estimated lifetime in order to be covered by the national flood insurance program special flood hazard area coverage (Kopp et al., 2014). One building, 1 Brooklyn Bay, is a 30-story condo and rental tower with the new type of planning in place for buildings to resist destruction from flooding, such as the lobby being built above the floodplain and the mechanical systems built on higher levels to prevent power and heating malfunctions in the instance of unavoidable flooding in the future (Chen, 2018).
The Zoning for Coastal Flood Resiliency plan was developed to help people already living and working in the floodplain to reduce damage from the future flooding. The plan highlights preparing by retrofitting homes that are non-compliant, allowing for taller buildings by easing building height limits, and giving incentives to owners when they flood-proof lower living or working space (New York City Planning, 2013). The Bay Improvement Group in Sheepshead Bay proposes to reserve waterfront property for water-absorbent landscapes instead of allowing taller buildings to be built near the water that prevent flood-diverting vegetation from being planted (Chen, 2018).
New York City Planning. (2013). Chapter 2- Special Regulations Applying in the Waterfront Area. NYC Planning: Zoning Resolution. https://zr.planning.nyc.gov/article-vi/chapter-2#62-13
Hu, W. (2018). Please Don’t Flush the Toilet. It’s Raining. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/02/nyregion/new-york-reduce-water use-in-rainstorms-flush.html
Kopp, R. E., Horton R. M., Little, C. M., Mitrovica, J. X., Oppenheimer, M., Rasmussen, D.J., Strauss, B. H., Tebaldi, C. (2014). Probabilistic 21st and 22nd century sea-level projections at a global network of tide-gauge sites. Advancing Earth and Space Science. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2014EF000239
Buchanan, M. K., Kulp, S., Cushing, L., Morello-Frosch, R., Nedwick, T., Strauss, B. (2020). Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Threaten Affordable Housing. IOPScience: Environmental Research. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748- 9326/abb266
Chen, S., (2018). New Buildings Rise in Flood Zones. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/06/realestate/luxury/new-buildings-rise in-flood-zones.html
O’ahu has been dealing with an increasing rate of sea level rise and tropical cyclones, heightening the island’s vulnerability to coastal flooding and erosion. In the past 34 years, the island has seen about two inches of sea level rise, however, climate change is projected to increase this rate over time (Honolulu County…, n.d.). This trend has led to more frequent and increasingly severe flooding and erosion, exacerbating the impacts of high waves, storm surges, and drainage problems. As water level increases, high seasonal waves and storm events (including hurricanes and tsunamis) breach further inland, swelling groundwater levels. Due to a higher groundwater table, new wetlands form, surface drainage changes, and flooding occurs even outside of storm events (Fletcher & Lim, 2008).
Floods endanger water, sewage, and electrical infrastructure, in addition to causing land loss from coastal erosion, impacting buildings, labor sites (such as farms or hazardous waste facilities), and habitats (Hawaii’s Sea…, n.d.). Over the next 30-70 years, up to 12,000 acres of public beaches and parks, and nearly 4,000 structures across the island will be impacted by flooding of up to 3.2 feet above the current sea level. Coastal erosion and flooding has also caused damage to some areas which hold significance to Native Hawaiian communities, for instance, burial grounds. On O’ahu, 3.2 feet of sea level rise may impact up to 189 native cultural sites (Sea Level…, 2018). In Honolulu alone, the capital of Hawaii, 1,884 homes (housing 3,718 residents) and 19 miles of road are exposed to flooding by three feet of sea level rise (Honolulu County…, n.d.).
Salt water penetrates wetlands, streams, and estuarine systems near the coast, harming habitats and communities dependent on these bodies as a source for freshwater (Fletcher & Lim, 2008). Drainage systems have been created to diminish the impacts of flooding by channeling excess water back into the ocean, however, high tides and rising sea levels may cause seawater to be pushed back through the pipes and onto the streets (Hawaii’s Sea…, n.d.). The flooding of coastal roads and buildings will render them impassible and possibly irreparable, impacting local travel and tourism and thus disrupting the island’s visitor economy (Hawaii, n.d.).
Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA. (n.d.). Surging Seas Risk Finder, Climate Central. https://riskfinder.climatecentral.org/county/honolulu-county.hi.us?comparisonType=postal-code&forecastType=NOAA2017_int_p50&level=2&unit=ft
Fletcher, C. & Lim, S.-C. (2008). Sea Level Rise Hawaii. Coastal Geology Group. www.soest.hawaii.edu/coasts/sealevel/.
Hawaii’s Sea Level Is Rising. (n.d.). Sea Level Rise.org. https://sealevelrise.org/states/hawaii/#:~:text=In%20the%20last%20decade%2C%20the,to%20rise%20around%206%20inches.&text=Scientists%20now%20forecast%20that%20in,risen%20by%20another%206%20inches.
Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report. (2018, November 27). Climate Adaption. climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/SLR-Report_Dec2017.pdf.
Hawaii. (n.d.). Coastal Resilience. coastalresilience.org/project/hawaii/.
Claire Jablonski, Mathematics, Eberly College of Science
El Niños greatly impact the Pacific Ocean. El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is made up of El Niños and La Niñas. An ENSO cycle lasts on average for about four years and corresponds to oceanic and atmospheric changes. When an El Niño occurs, surface winds weaken, and warm water is pushed towards the Americas. Also, upwelling decreases in the ocean, causing there to be fewer nutrients at the surface. Lima, Peru has experienced the horrific aftermath of an El Niño Costero event in 2017.
The El Niño Costero of 2017 wrecked Lima, Peru. Major flooding led to landslides throughout the city, leaving people homeless and crops destroyed. The El Niño Costero of 2017 had more rain falling in a shorter period than ever seen before. Scientists predict that El Niños are going to become stronger in the near future due to climate change. In Lima, schools were closed, and it was difficult to find clean running water because the water treatment systems were a mess. Also, the El Niño Costero of 2017 greatly affected the anchovy population in Lima. Because of the unusually warm water off the coast of Peru, the nutrients that Anchovies survive on diminished, and it was difficult for the fish to survive. Anchovies play a big role in Peru, so the El Niño affected the people and the wildlife population. The El Niño Costero of 2017 heavy rain showers, floods, and thunderstorms affected thousands of people in Peru.
A solution to this problem is rethinking the foundation of Lima, Peru. Building better bridges, highways, and drainage systems will help with the heavy rain and flooding that comes with El Niños. Also, overfishing of anchovies must be stopped in order to protect the fish population. El Niños weaken the food sources for anchovies, so few can survive. Those that do survive are overfished. Rules must be set in place because anchovies are necessary for Peruvian people and wildlife. Lima, Peru must be prepared for more El Niños to happen in the future by protecting its people and wildlife populations.
Drye, W. (2021, February 10). El Niño Could Bring Extreme Weather, Fewer Anchovies. Science. National Geographic. www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/150730-el-nino return-weather.
The El Niño Effect. (2014). FOFSA. 2014, www.fosfa.org/the-el-nino-effect/.
Learning from El Niño Costero 2017: Opportunities for Building Resilience in Peru, October 2017 – Peru. (2017, October 31). ReliefWeb. reliefweb.int/report/peru/learning-el-ni-o-costero 2017-opportunities-building-resilience-peru-october-2017.
Taj, M. (2017, March 17). Abnormal El Nino in Peru Unleashes Deadly Downpours; More Flooding Seen. Reuters. www.reuters.com/article/us-peru-floods/abnormal-el-nino-in-peru-unleashes-deadly-downpours-more-flooding-seen-idUSKBN16O2V5.
Tegel, S. (2013, April 14). Peru: Where Have All the Anchovies Gone? The World. www.pri.org/stories/2013-04-14/peru-where-have-all-anchovies gone.
What Are El Nino and La Nina? (2009, March 26). NOAA. oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ninonina.html.
Claire Jablonski, Mathematics, Eberly College of Science
Coastal communities in Alaska are being threatened by climate change. Because storms have increased and become more powerful, Alaskan coastal communities are experiencing more flooding and erosion. Also, with temperatures continuing to rise, Arctic sea ice and permafrost are continuing to melt. Villages are being forced to relocate because of these drastic climate change events. One coastal village that has been hit especially hard is Newtok, Alaska. Newtok is a village consisting of less than 400 indigenous people on the Ninglick River. Being a coastal area on the Bering Sea has caused increased flooding and erosion for the village. Newtok is vulnerable to being completely lost due to its location on the coast. Something needs to be done to save Newtok and its people.
In the late 1990s, Newtok became one of the first coastal villages in Alaska to make plans for relocating. However, relocation is an expensive task, and money was not allocated for Newtok at the time to begin this process. It took several years for the community to find enough funds to start the relocation process because no federal agency has the authority to move a village. After years of planning and construction, Newtok village families were able to finally begin moving to Mertavik, Alaska in 2019. This replacement village is about ten miles away and was built to sustain climate change. The people of Newtok are being moved in phases as homes are continuing to be built on Mertavik until around 2023. That means that the Mertavik-Newtok people will operate from two locations for the time being. The people of Newtok are both happy and sad about moving to Mertavik. They are happy that there will be more spacious houses with running water but sad to leave their beloved homeland behind. Because of climate change, the people of Newtok have been forced to become flexible in moving their village to Mertavik to keep their culture alive.
Earls, M. (2019, December 14). Alaska’s Coastal Communities Face a Growing Climate Threat. Scientific American. www.scientificamerican.com/article/alaskas-coastal-communities-face-a-growing-climate-threat/.
Feifel, K. & Gregg, R. (2010, July 3). Relocating the Village of Newtok, Alaska Due to Coastal Erosion. Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange. www.cakex.org/case-studies/relocating-village newtok-alaska-due-coastal-erosion.
Kim, G. (2019, November 2). Residents Of An Eroded Alaskan Village Are Pioneering A New One, In Phases. NPR. www.npr.org/2019/11/02/774791091/residents-of-an-eroded-alaskan-village-are-pioneering-a-new-one-in-phases.
Welch, C. (2021, February 10). For This Alaska Village, Time Has Finally Run Out. National Geographic. www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/climate-change-finally-caught-up-to-this-alaska-village?loggedin=true.
Garret King, Community and Economic Development, Penn State University
When thinking about changes in precipitation, most people think climate change is causing areas to dry up and have drought. In other places in the world, however, the problem is an increase in precipitation that causes flooding and destruction of land and property. In the city of Chennai in India, increased rainfall has started to cause major flooding and increasing amounts of deaths. The city of Chennai receives around 55 inches of rain a year which is more than four times the amount that Los Angeles receives on a yearly basis. At the same time, this city is also starting to run out of usable water due to pollution and the flooding contaminating available water. The rainfall in the area is concentrated to only a small part of the year during the monsoon season where the city gets 90% of its yearly rainfall. This rainfall causes massive flooding and, in some cases, even many deaths. The flooding causes long lasting issues as well as the city has so much pollution that when flooding occurs the amount of trash that fills the rivers, lakes, and streams makes almost all the available water undrinkable. In the future, the issue of precipitation in the city is likely to become more polarized with the amount of rainfall throughout the year decreasing while precipitation during the monsoon season will increase leading to more intense and stronger floods. With the continuation of the excessive flooding at one time of year and less rain during the other the city is running out of water during the summer and is then being crippled by the floods the city will continue to suffer during monsoon season. The city is trying to solve the issues by implementing policies and systems to harvest the rain water by collection and rationing. The system has not been very effective so far though as lack of maintenance has degraded the system. Another solution that the city has tried is creating desalination plants and programs to clean up the pollution that is causing many of the issues that the floods are creating. The city needs some time to implement these policies, but at the same time the city is facing a growing population and needs to solve these issues quickly.
News, B. (2021, February 3). How One of the World’s Wettest Major Cities Ran Out of Water. Bloomberg.com.
On Sunday February 7, 2021, in India, in the northern state of Uttarakhand, in the district of Chamoli, massive flooding of the River Rishiganga and avalanches caused by a glacier breaking has led to the disappearance of over 100 people. Rescue crews have been searching for trapped survivors for two days. The breaking off of the glacier led to muddy water filled with ice chunks flowing down the mountainside toward numerous small villages. Two dam projects were carried away by the avalanche and flooding, along with the many workers on the projects.
The Himalayan glaciers provide water to millions of people and is a very fragile ecosystem that the locals believe should not be tampered with. The community blames the government for building dams so close to the glaciers. The two projects were built mere miles from the Nanda Devi glacier on the second largest mountain in India. They believe they are vulnerable to more flooding and further destruction to their villages and roads because of climate change and the rapid rate that the glaciers seem to be breaking off and disappearing. Scientists agree that for a glacier to break off during wintertime is a sure sign of climate change. The glaciers, at this rate, could be gone in the next 75 years, along with the water source for millions of people.
The only projected solution to this threat would be to try and slow the rate at which our climate is warming by becoming more responsible as a planet to our emission levels and pollution. Also, according to climate scientists, the government of India should consider building their power dams further down the river, away from vital sources of freshwater to reduce further instability that is already occurring in that area. There is no immediate solution to the glaciers breaking off, but building the power dams farther from the glaciers would help to not make the problem worse by disrupting the environment in that area further.
Mashal, M. & Kumar, H. (2021, February 7) Glacier Bursts in India, Leaving More than 100 Missing in Floods. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/.
In the city of Houston, Texas, residents, especially those in the poorest of neighborhoods like the 5th ward, have endured multitudes of damage caused by numerous cases of flooding typically caused by hurricanes and, most recently, a rare winter event that can only be explained by climate change. Many people in these lower income neighborhoods first suffered damages to their homes from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. A lot of the residents do not have the money to be able to afford all the repairs to fix the damages the storm caused. This has led to many people living in poor conditions like moldy walls and floors, pests and wild animals entering homes, and unsafe living conditions. Every flooding or event that occurs becomes another obstacle and more damage stacked on to what has already occurred. Residents say the government’s lack of action to prevent future damages from flooding or provide relief to many struggling communities is a main cause for so many struggling people. So, when this winter event hit these neighborhoods, people were in the dark, with no heat or electricity in their already damaged homes. Their houses flooded again, but this time it was caused by the rupturing of the plumbing in houses.
Climate change is causing the sea level to rise and also making hurricanes slower and more powerful, this is leading to many people considering if it is worth it to stay and try to keep their homes, or if moving and trying to start over is the best option. The future seems to predict that things will only get worse for the area and events like flooding and other forms of extreme weather are far from over. The problem is many people in these neighborhoods do not have enough money to start over somewhere else, most of their wealth is in the home that they have in Houston, and coming up with money to fix their homes is just as difficult. The government has offered a few programs to help people with the damages from Hurricane Harvey, but there seems to be a fair amount of bureaucratic drama that has led to many people not being granted any relief. The only solution to the problem, if moving is not an option, would be for more government help to the struggling neighborhoods and looking into some infrastructure to help with flooding problems for the future.
Rojas, R.. (2021, March 23). The Old American Dream A Trap as the Floods Keep Coming. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2021/03/23/us/texas-winter-storm-hurricane-harvey-houston.html.
Flooding, erosion, and landslides caused by the rising water level of the Mekong River is severely affecting the residents of Vietnam’s Cần Thơ city. In the first eight months of 2020, the city suffered from almost sixty natural disasters related to climate change, half of which were landslides from the nearby Hau River, which is a distributary of the Mekong. Water levels in the Hau River reached 2 ¼ meters in October of 2019, which is the highest it has been in the past three decades. Flooding accompanied landslides, which caused saltwater intrusion on the city’s rice paddies and the destruction of almost seven hundred households. Residents have tried to single handedly adapt to these issues by using traditional techniques such as planting mangroves and building eucalyptus and coconut piles to hinder the saltwater from reaching the rice fields and to prevent landslides, but this is just a temporary fix.
With rising sea levels, cities like Cần Thơ in the Mekong Delta will be affected by nearing shorelines and saltwater intrusion, causing forced migration and lack of food security and jobs for local farmers and fishermen who make up the majority of residents in Cần Thơ. Mekong River Commission specialists state that if Cần Thơ and other local communities are not protected by effective barriers, 30% of the population in the Mekong Delta would be subject to forced migration, as a sea level increases of up to one meter by 2100 will leave 38% of the delta submerged. 171 areas in Cần Thơ are especially susceptible to landslides and flooding, prompting the city to come up with a proposal to invest in embankments that protect its residents and stabilize the river banks. To prevent further damage to the city, Cần Thơnow has an anti-flooding and anti-erosion project that includes the nearly complete construction of eighteen flood controlling and landslide protection embankments totaling around forty-thousand kilometers, and fourteen more embankments are being discussed. Although this has done much to protect the city’s residents, it is merely a provisional fix to a problem stemming from a larger, global issue: climate change.
Cần Thơ City Proposes To Invest In Building 11,218km Of Embankment Against Landslide. (2020). Disaster Management Policy and Technology Center. http://dmc.gov.vn/news-detail/can-tho-city-proposes-to-invest-in-building-11218km-of-embankment-against-landslide-cd10142-32.html?lang=en-US.
FloodList News. (2019, October 7). Vietnam – High Tides and Rising Rivers Flood Cần Thơ. FloodList. http://floodlist.com/asia/vietnam-high-tides-rivers-flood-can-tho-october-2019.
Living On The Edge Of The Rising Sea. (n.d.). Mekong River Commission. https://www.mrcmekong.org/news-and-events/articles-and-stories/living-on-the-edge-of-the-rising-sea/.
Alyssa Martin, Advertizing/Public Relations, Bellisario College of Communications
While doing research and exploring the different topics for this entry, I came across an article that was very interesting, and that I really wanted to share. I will be discussing a small city in Peru, called Tumbes, that suffered massive floods after a devastating and particularly intense El Niño event took place that caused 16 times the average amount of rain for this region.
What made this so intriguing to me is that the El Niño event occurred quite a long time ago, but the effects that it had were lasting. The El Niño event took place in the late 90s and it was severe. The floods from excessive rainfall wiped out an abundance of important crops and it isolated rural villages for a span of months. This is what the lasting effects really lead back to, because while all of these crops were being destroyed, and healthy/clean drinking water was being contaminated, malnourishment and disease were spreading like crazy.
Later in the 2000s, the effects of this disaster were looked into. It was found that the growth of children who were born around the El Niño event in this area was stunted. Prior to the El Niño, growth of children in this area was actually progressing due to improved economic circumstances. When the El Niño hit, this progress was quite literally reversed. On average, kids were 0.3 centimeters shorter than they would have been had they had access to the usual crops and drinking water. Their muscle mass was also significantly reduced. This is an example of how climate change and natural disaster can have lasting effects on the human population.
Sadly, Tumbes was so vulnerable to this El Niño event because of an irregular increase of ocean surface temperature in Peruvian coasts. Although this was a terrible disaster, it did lead to a temporary solution, or at least shed some light on how severe these situations can really be. This event emphasized the need to warn developing countries when an El Niño is on the way, so that they can properly revamp their flood defenses, and concentrate on which places will be affected the most. While the strength of the El Niño is harder to predict, we can at least help these developing countries be aware of what’s coming their way to hopefully soften the blow.
Wilson, C. (2014, November 25). Severe El Niño stunted Peruvian children’s height. NewScientist. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26608-severe-el-nino-stunted-peruvian-childrens-height/
Haylie McSwaney, Biology, Eberly College of Science
Venice has historically experienced dangerous flooding that continues to threaten its inhabitants. This flooding comes from Adriatic Sea high tides, and modern-day sea-level rise is only worsening this issue. The high tides, also known as “Acqua Alta,” are becoming more and more destructive to infrastructure. A great fear is that irreplaceable architecture and art will be lost due to these floods.
This city is particularly vulnerable for multiple reasons. First, its elevation today is close to sea level, and is only lowering with land subsidence. Removal of groundwater and over pumping have led to the dangerous levels of subsidence in Venice. In the 1960’s, deep wells were drilled throughout the city as new water sources. The consequences of these wells were severe, damaging the foundations of the city and leading to sinking. Wells were banned after this incident, but the structural damage they produced could not be reversed. There is also a great amount of water traffic in Venice, leading to increased waves that erode buildings along the Grand Canal. Due to these issues the city is facing, some have suggested that it should now be called the “Sinking City” instead of its nickname the “Floating City.”
Today, Venice faces continual infrastructural damage due to these high tide “Acqua Alta” events. In the future, it is estimated that some parts of the city will become uninhabitable. The loss of historical buildings and irreplaceable art will have major impacts on tourism in Venice. There was an observed increase in trip cancellations in 2019. With tourists too scared to travel here, this threatens an extremely profitable industry.
Over the last two decades, the Italian government has been developing a plan to combat this destructive flooding. They have developed MOSE, which consists of 78 gates that will be risen remotely when there is a risk of high tides. There has been backlash to this plan, as some worry the gates will hold sewage in the city or won’t be as effective as planned. They have been tested, however, against a high tide event in October of 2020 with success, and are projected to be finished by October 2021. There are some much smaller ways inhabitants of Venice are protecting themselves from these flooding events. A bookstore known as “Libraria Acqua Alta” is one innovative example. The books inside are stored in bathtubs or gondolas so that they are not damaged when the store floods.
Van Boom, D. (2020, October 9). Venice’s Desperate 50-Year Battle against Floods. CNET. www.cnet.com/features/venices-desperate-50-year-fight-against-floods/.
Why Was Venice Built on Water? (2020, May 26) Venice Tours. www.venicetoursitaly.it/blog/why-was-venice-built-on-water/.
Momigliano, A. (2019, November 20). The Flooding of Venice: What Tourists Need to Know. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2019/11/20/travel/venice flooding.html.
The town of Astoria – a peninsula located in Northwestern Oregon at the coast and beside the mouth of the Columbia River – is facing continuous weathering on its steep slopes and some flooding from the flow of water originating from high precipitation of about 67 inches per year. This puts Astoria at risk for additional landslide events, as well as additional damages from storm surges, such as detached and mangled boats. The area’s precipitation is very high relative to the United States, and it is expected to worsen in the already-bad wintertime, according to the EPA’s climate change precipitation map. In contrast to the projected wetter winter as well as slightly wetter fall and springs for this area, the summers are anticipated to be much drier than before. The extreme variation and changes in climate in this area can lead to a lack of vegetation growth in Astoria’s growing season (summer), which can lead to weaker rooting systems to help hold the area’s slopes in their place. This projected increase in precipitation during the wintertime is a bad sign for the future of Astoria, as landslide frequency and severity are likely to increase as more water will increase the weathering against the steep slopes of its land. To combat such impacts, the county of Clatsop (which contains Astoria) has developed an extensive mitigation plan that has several divisions into smaller towns and cities in order to address such concerns. The main idea within Astoria’s mitigation efforts is to allocate land ownership to entities such as the federal government and single parcels, as well as create land reserves, which will help hinder development in this area. This limited development will allow vegetation and root systems to grow and extend, which helps lock the land more solidly in place than before. This solidified land will ultimately help reduce Astoria’s landslide events and the severity of such events.
(n.d.). EPA. https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/images/science/USPrecipMaps-large.png
(2021). In Clatsop County MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL NATURAL HAZARDS MITIGATION PLAN (p. 109). https://www.co.clatsop.or.us/sites/default/files/fileattachments/emergency_management/page/512/clatsopmjnhmp_draft_01192021.pdf
Astoria landslide map. (2020, February 3). The Astorian. https://www.dailyastorian.com/astoria-landslide-map/image_1b17e154-46bf-11ea-9a48-234c95f9f75e.html
Climate Astoria – Oregon. (2021). U.S. Climate Data. https://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/astoria/oregon/united-states/usor0017
Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan (MJNHMP) Update 2020. (2020, January 28). Clatsop County Oregon. https://www.co.clatsop.or.us/em/page/multi-jurisdictional-natural-hazards-mitigation-plan-mjnhmp-update-2020
Ryan, J. (2021, January 13). 1 missing amid landslides, flash flooding in Columbia River Gorge as rains drench Oregon. Oregonlive. https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/2021/01/residents-of-dodson-small-columbia-river-gorge-community-told-to-evacuate-amid-flash-flood-warning.html
Ascope, located on the north western coast of Perú, has a population of around ten thousand. The area’s agriculture is severely affected by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycle, or ENSO.
ENSO is comprised of El Niño and La Niña. These are patterns or cycles in the Pacific Ocean that can change the weather. These cycles last from months to years and occur every two to seven years. They are a change in normal climate conditions. El Niño particularly affects Perú. During this phase, warm water is pushed towards the west coast of the Americas. Upwelling of water that brings nutrients for marine life to the surface of the ocean is weakened. This affects the fish that need the nutrients to survive (What Are…, 2009). El Niño also causes heavy rains in certain areas, like Perú (Vasquez, n.d.).
This area is particularly vulnerable because of “Coastal El Niño.” This phenomenon only occurs along the coast of Peru and Ecuador. It causes intense rains that in turn cause major damage. Rivers flood, mudslides and flash floods occur, and infrastructure is destroyed (Vasquez, n.d.). Ascope lost approximately 7,661 hectare of agricultural land to the last El Niño cycle in 2017 (Caramanica et al., 2020). Many irrigation systems needed to water plants were either destroyed by mudslides or overflowed from rainfall (Vasquez, n.d.).
El Niño events are predicted to double in frequency by the end of the twenty-first century, causing more and more damage (Stein, 2020). If the global temperature continues to increase, El Niño could also intensify (E360 Digest, 2019). Ascope can solve these issues with preparedness and prevention. This includes practicing evacuations in case of major floods, building up infrastructure to lessen the effects of flooding, and finding new ways to farm (Freedman, 2016). After flooding occurred, farmers planted maize, beans, and squash. They used the sedimentary build up from the flooding to their advantage (Caramanica et al., 2020). These “floodwater fields” show that, besides prevention and preparedness, adaptation to Earth’s changing climate may be the best option.
Caramanica, A., Mesia, L. H., Morales, C. R., Huckleberry, G., Castillo B., L. J., & Quilter, (2020). El Niño Resilience Farming on the North Coast of Peru. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(39), 24127-24137. www.pnas.org/content/117/39/24127.
E360 Digest. (2019, October 23). Climate Change Is Making El Niños More Intense, Study Finds. Yale E360. https://e360.yale.edu/digest/climate-change-is-making-el-ninos-more-intense-study-finds
Freedman, E. (2016, April 27). Preparations for El Niño. Panoramas. www.panoramas.pitt.edu/politics/preparations-el-ni%C3%B1o.
Stein, T. (2020, November 9) How Will Climate Change El Niño and La Niña? NOAA Research. https://research.noaa.gov/article/ArtMID/587/ArticleID/2685/New-research-volume-explores-future-of-ENSO-under-influence-of-climate-change.
Vasquez, R. (n.d.). El Niño Phenomenon: Damages and Prevention. RTS International Loss Adjusters. www.rtsgrupo.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/RTS-Opinion-Piece_El-Nino-Phenomenon-Damages-and-Prevention.-Peru.-Ricardo-Vasquez-2018009.pdf.
What Are El Nino and La Nina? (2009, March 26). National Ocean Service. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ninonina.html.
The community that I will be focusing on is a neighborhood in the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong. The neighborhood is Chaktai and the community has been facing the threat of daily tidal surges. Climate change is the reason behind these tidal surges, which is resulting in one of the largest mass migrations ever in Bangladesh. What is occurring is that glaciers and snow are melting in the Himalayas, causing sea levels to rise. These same melting glaciers connect with rivers that flow into the city, and more specifically, Chaktai. Most homes in the neighborhood will flood at least two times a day from June to October because of the influx of water coming in from nearby rivers.
The community is vulnerable because these daily tidal surges are causing damage to their homes, they’re losing their personal belongings, and they’re finding themselves throwing water out every day just for there to be more in their homes when they awaken the next day. They have adapted to a life where anywhere they go, they know they will be submerged in water at least up to their knees. Businesses are being forced to shut down because they are being flooded too often and losing too many products.
Forecasted impacts are that by 2100, thirty million people will be forced to relocate due to rise in sea level. The rise in sea level would put nearly twenty percent of Bangladesh’s entire country under water, Chaktai included in that percentage. The land is continuously being contaminated by the water spewing in, which will eventually make any farmland Chaktai has completely contaminated and ultimately infertile.
The solutions this community has found to cope with the threat are raising their first level floors so the water sits below and doesn’t damage their homes. They’ve created barriers and walls to try and keep the water contained, as well as making sandbag barriers to attempt to control the water. However, all the solutions stated are clearly temporary fixes. Chaktai is a poor neighborhood, in a poor city, in a poor country, and the only thing the people of it can do is remain hopeful the government will implement laws towards preventing climate change to resolve the issue at its core.
Communities coping with climate change. (2019, September 26). The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2019/sep/26/communities-coping with-climate-change-in-pictures
Dickerman, K., & Salam, J. (2020, April 29). ‘A life too often lived under water: how tidal flooding is wreaking havoc in Bangladesh. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/photography/2020/04/29/life-too-often-lived-under water-how-tidal-flooding-is-wreaking-havoc-bangladesh/
Glennon, R. (2017, April 21). The unfolding tragedy of climate change in Bangladesh. Scientific American. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-unfolding-tragedy-of-climate-change-in-bangladesh/
Jiho Park, Psychology, Penn State University
The community is Busan, a city in South Korea. It is a port city containing lots of hill areas. Most of the developed areas in this city are located on low-lying ground, and this fact has also affected Busan’s road network. To avoid hills, the majority of Busan’s roads were constructed underground.
The threat is flooding due to the annual typhoon (hurricane). Lots of hill areas and low grounds make rainwater gather into certain low spots, and it makes many houses and underground roads vulnerable to flooding. Also, Nakdonggang River, which divides this city vertically, is interlinked with these low ground areas to cause overflowing damage. According to KBS News, more than 5,300 places in Busan experienced flood damage over the last decade (2010 to 2020). The local government of Busan also presented that precipitation in heavy rain periods exceeded drainage treatment capacity, and deterioration of the system caused severe flooding damage.
The annual news of flooding damage in Busan often comes up during typhoon season. In 2020, Typhoon Haishen hit Busan. According to Kyunghyang News, Typhoon Haishen caused 3 casualties and 103 families in Busan to evacuate. Over 5,900 houses experienced power outages and lots of roads were flooded. In 2019, Typhoon Mitag caused several places to flood, including underpasses, drain facilities, and riverside areas. The damage is getting frequent and serious.
To avoid flood damage, Busan needs to reconstruct and reinforce the design of drainage facilities. Also, repairing some worn out systems is needed as well. To predict the flood and prevent the damage of property and life, it is necessary to construct a strong prediction and response system. In the announcement of the 2020 Busan damage reduction task force, considering the future climate change, Busan was planning to build a drain pump station, expand drain pipes, and apply a highland drain station technique. Also, in non-structural measure, Busan created a disaster information map and constructed a flood management system.
BeFM News. (2020, September 8). Typhoon Haishen damages in Busan. Stars and Stripes Korea. https://korea.stripes.com/community-news/typhoon-haishen-damages-busan
Busan flood damage, natural disaster or man-made… Local governments, controversies growing over easy delays. (2014, August 26). seoul.co.kr. https://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20140826500141
Park, C. S. (2019, October 2). Busan, the area affected by Typhoon Mitak…Flooded by 30mm water bombs per hour (2 steps overall). yna.co.kr. https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20191002096652051
Kang, T. W. (2020, October 19). Busan City seeks fundamental solutions for habitual flooding areas. newscj. http://www.newscj.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=790124
Yoo, C., Hong, S. H., Choi, H., & Nam, K. W. (2013, August 30). A Study on Flood Area Typology Using the Inundation Trace Map – A Case Study of Busan Metropolitan City. Journal of the Korean Society of Surveying, Geodesy, Photogrammetry and Cartography, 31(5), 393-400. https://doi.org/10.7848/ksgpc.2013.31.5.393
Alyssa Penrod, Architecture, College of Arts and Architecture
Lagos, Nigeria has a rapidly growing population and is quickly improving its economy at rapid rates. It is one of the biggest cities on the continent of Africa, and it is a crucial economic and trade hub for Nigeria, but is now considered to be at an extreme risk due to climate change on the Maplecroft Climate Change Vulnerability Index. Heat waves and droughts are imminent threats to the city, while its location off the Gulf of Guinea means that the threat of sea levels rising is a major danger for the city. Sea levels rising would put a strain on the city’s agriculture and fishing industries because of coastal erosion and water contamination. Flooding will also become an issue. The amount of rain per year is not expected to change, but it is predicted that it will fall in heavier spurts all at once instead of across the year, leading to flooding. This would be exacerbated by the droughts that kill off plant life that would absorb and dampen the effects of the future flooding. This would exacerbate the already existing issues with poverty plaguing the city. All of these changes would negatively impact how the city grows and obtains food for its citizens, putting a strain on its resources and infrastructure that could undo the economic and social progress that has happened to the city in recent years. Flooding is also dangerous to people and property within the city. Updating urban planning and the city’s infrastructure are crucial to staving off the negative effects of flooding brought on by climate change. Better drainage and waste disposal would protect public health and the security of the agricultural systems as well. Emergency response systems and better weather forecasting/modelling systems would also work against the effects of these changes.
Amaniampong, A. (2019, November 11). Climate Change in Nigeria. Stable Seas. www.stableseas.org/coastal-welfare/climate-change-nigeria.
Law, T. (2019, September 30) These Six Places Will Face Extreme Climate Change Threats. Time. www.time.com/5687470/cities-countries-most-affected-by-climate-change/.
Emma Richardson, General Arts and Sciences, Penn State Behrend
There are quite a few places I could focus my attention for this one. I’ve seen reports that coastal communities around the world face threats of losing land from rising seas. The thing is, this threat won’t be dealt with until it’s starting to affect the upper-class people, like New York City. Which is why I’m choosing to focus on small communities that are being hurt right now from rising sea levels. This is already a reality for them, not something that can be swept under the rug for another couple of years.
The Torres Strait Islands off the coast of Northeastern Australia are currently facing displacement due to a warming climate. The islands of Saibai and Boigu in particular are at higher risks, with a population waiting in the wings. They’ve been able to get some help from the Australian government (after trying for many years to receive aid), but these are only band-aid fixes, like seawalls that can break (and have broken before) in storms. This community is vulnerable because they are fairly small, fairly weak politically, and struggle to find others that are willing to devise long-term aid with their councils. There is still a drastic division between what’s done for the indigenous populations and what’s done for the rest of the Australian citizens as far as government help.
The fear is that entire islands will be sunken, or ultimately uninhabitable, and the locals will be forced out of their homes and neighborhoods. In fact, climate change is expected to cause a 0.6 m rise in sea level by 2100. Not only will this impact the quality of life for those in this community, it will affect their entire way of life. The island culture reflects the natural world, and when the world changes, the culture too must change. Life as they know it will be different.
As we’ve learned about the Paris Climate Agreement, it is obvious that something is amiss. One of the major goals involves the wealthy nations supporting the poorer nations, but that doesn’t appear to be happening on the level it should. The peoples of the Torres Strait Islands have and continue to legally fight for their homeland; the disconnect lies in the unwillingness of the Australian government (and other governments for not keeping AUS responsible) to initiate the societal change necessary to prevent such devastating loss for its indigenous citizens. Short term, higher seawalls can be built, but long term, the community may have to move. But this is also where the best solution lies with indigenous people gaining more power and respect within the government. The more pressure we place on the major nations and the more we hold them accountable, the better the progress toward preserving island life for locals.
Huusko, S. (2015, December 8). “We’re Sinking Here”: Climate Change Laps at Front Door of Torres Strait Islands. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/dec/08/were-sinking-here-climate-change-laps-at-front-door-of-torres-strait-islands.
Roache, M. (2019, April 22). How Climate Change Threatens the Torres Strait Islands. Time. time.com/5572445/torres-strait-islands-climate-change/
Taylor, M. (2019, May 13). Australian Islanders to Lodge Landmark U.N. Complaint on Climate Change. Reuters. www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-climatechange-legal-idUSKCN1SJ0PA
Daleville, Alabama is a small town at the southern end of Alabama threatened with severe flooding and drought. The infrastructure in Alabama is not made to withstand the detriments of flooding and severe storm surges. This is leaving the small community vulnerable, until officials begin to act. In the last thirty years, flooding is up by 16.5 percent and is on a steady rise (Daleville, Alabama, n.d.). Hurricanes, increased precipitation, and sea level rise are the factors to the flooding issues that face Daleville.
Alabama’s governance is leaving the state vulnerable with lack of action to the increasing problem. In research, Archibald (2019) discusses how the citizens refuse to address the problem and voted in an individual who would rather ignore the problem. Daleville is in poverty, and without proper help from the governance of the city and state, they face the issues of their homes being completely devastated by flooding.
The forecasted impact to Daleville is that more infrastructure will be devastated by the flooding and that the soils will no longer have the same water retainability. The EPA (2016) predicts that precipitation will increase by 5-10 percent and that the water runoff will decrease by 2.5-5 percent. Droughts will become more severe in Daleville. The community must change and adapt their agricultural yields to handle droughts. The community is vulnerable, and many don’t have the ability to pack up and move since they are in poverty.
Some of the solutions to the flooding are to update the infrastructure in Daleville to lessen the effects of flooding. Constructing new wetlands and marshes are another way to help alleviate flooding problems. Flood Factor (n.d.) describes that they store water to lessen the impact of the floods. Daleville is accustomed to high temperatures, and they have cooling areas, but if more flooding happens it may cause power outages and increased heat related deaths. The town’s mayor needs to begin introducing some of these sustainable methods to the governor in order to begin helping this small community. It is composed of about 5,000 residents, and in the next decade, they face numerous issues from the climate crisis.
Archibald, J. (2019, February 5). Study: Alabama, red states will bear brunt of climate change. AL.com https://www.al.com/news/2019/02/study-alabama-red-states-will-bear-brunt-of-climate-change.html
EPA. (2016, August). What Climate Change Means for Alabama. https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/climate-change-al.pdf
Daleville, Alabama. (n.d.). Flood Factor. https://floodfactor.com/city/daleville-alabama/119360_fsid#environmental_changes
Rachel Crozier, Political Science, World Campus
This summer, the city of Zhengzhou, China received a year’s worth of rainfall in a matter of days. A report from NPR said that was the most rain the region has had in 60 years (Feng, 2021). Zhengzhou, located in low-lying plains in the Henan Province, is on the banks of the Yellow River. The severe rainfall event caused disastrous flooding throughout the city. According to The New York Times, while the region has been prone to flooding in the past, more extreme weather events heighten the risk for those who live there (Bradsher & Myers, 2021).
Zhengzhou has a population of 12 million people (Zhengzhou, 2021). The community is at risk of continued flooding due to the recent and predicted rainfall combined with the urbanization of the area (Feng, 2021). As the population has grown and the city has been built up, the run-off has had nowhere to go, which causes rising water in the city. During the July storm, a retaining wall near the subway system collapsed (Bradsher & Myers, 2021). The local hospital lost power, according to BBC, causing the staff to move patients elsewhere (China Floods…, 2021). NPR detailed the extreme flooding of the subway system where 12 people died (Feng, 2021). The damage and loss were immense for the people of Zhengzhou, leaving many without power or clean water (China Floods…, 2021). Another danger to communities prone to flooding can be the spread of diseases.
The people living in Zhengzhou face the prospects of future floods, damaged property, and travel becoming unsafe or impossible. Reports for the future predict that rainfall may continue to be more extreme, with large amounts of rain over short periods (Feng, 2021). This is primarily due to slower, wetter storms which are occurring. Solutions to the threat of flooding in the area will be complicated. While the city officials look for ways to control drainage, it may be difficult to keep up pace if the pattern of precipitation events continues (China Floods…, 2021). A coordinated, worldwide effort to combat climate change will be needed to address the looming threat of more severe weather events in the future.
Bradsher, K. & Myers, S. L. (2021, September 25). How Record Rains and Officials’ Mistakes Led to Drownings on a Subway. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/ 2021/09/25/world/asia/china-floods-subway-train.html.
China Floods: 12 Dead in Zhengzhou Train and Thousands Evacuated in Henan. (2021, July 21). BBC World News. www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-57861067. Accessed 28 September 2021.
Feng, E. (2021, July 25). Record-breaking Flooding in China Has Left Over One Million People Displaced. NPR. www.npr.org/2021/07/25/1020342822/flooding continues-to-devastate-zhengzhou-city-in-central-china.
Zhengzhou. (2021, September 25). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhengzhou.
Laura Guay, Biobehavioral Health, University Park
For this entry, I wanted to transition back to the West Coast, given the news updates I have been reading recently about the impact of climate change in that region. In this case, since I wanted to explore La Niña events, which are caused by colder than normal sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, I decided to look at Seattle, Washington. There has been extensive information released about how the Pacific Northwest will be facing a La Niña winter, feeling the effects of colder and wetter weather (Treisman, 2021). Just a few weeks ago, at the beginning of October, Seattle reported a low of 36 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning, breaking the previous record of a low of 39 degrees Fahrenheit (Clarridge, 2021). Now, with the La Niña weather pattern approaching, the city is preparing for a continued period of cold months, projected through February. Seattle experienced a La Niña pattern last year as well, and although it is common for La Niñas to occur in two consecutive years, with Seattle’s vulnerabilities, the wet conditions that accompany La Niñas are not ideal (Clarridge, 2021).
Seattle was largely unaffected by the flooding of rivers throughout western Washington until the early 2000s when “urban flooding” became an issue. Due to the heavy rains the city already experiences with its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and Cascade Mountain Range, Seattle’s drainage system can face difficulties operating, placing the city in a vulnerable position. There have also been cases of water collecting behind embankments or rising above them and destroying homes and killing people. Moreover, with Seattle’s proximity to water and essentially being surrounded by it (200 miles of waterfront), river and coastal flooding is already a common issue in the city (Seattle Office of Emergency Management, 2014).
Given the existing concerns of flooding the city experiences, with a La Niña, the increase in rain and snow (and subsequent snowmelt) would likely increase the projected impact of flooding in Seattle (Craighead, 2021). In addition to the flooding, there is also expected to be extensive power outages from the increase in snow as well as winds associated with fronts (Clarridge, 2021). That being said, there are solutions to the threat and these impacts on the community. Earlier in the 2010s, when the city faced other La Niña events, the response included collaboration between utility companies as well as local governments and community agencies to prepare citywide campaigns. These different actors worked together to advise residents to have food that doesn’t require being cooked, water, extra blankets, flashlights, batteries, ponchos, and a hand-crank radio on hand (Hodson, 2011; Seattle City Light, 2011). Overall, this La Niña event will go beyond Seattle and impact the entire world’s weather pattern. At this time, there is a lot of uncertainty, especially compared to last year, about how large of a La Niña event this will be (Craighead, 2021).
Clarridge, C. (2021, October 12). The Seattle area is heading into another La Niña winter. Here’s what that means. The Seattle Times. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/weather/the-seattle-area-is-heading-into-its second-la-nina-winter-heres-what-that-means/
Craighead, C. (2021, October 15). La Niña is back with cooler, wetter weather for WesternWashington, but it might be weaker this year. SeattlePI. https://www.seattlepi.com/weather/article/what-double-dip-la-nina-winter-means-for-wa state-16536169.php
Hodson, J. (2011, October 2). Best to prepare for another La Niña winter. The Seattle Times. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/best-to-prepare-for-another-la nia-winter/
Treisman, R. (2021, October 22). La Niña is coming. Here’s what that means for winter weather in the U.S. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2021/10/15/1046313870/la-nina winter-weather-us-temperatures-rainfall
Seattle City Light (2011, November 2). Mayor outlines City Light winter preparations, encourages residents to get ready for La Niña too. https://powerlines.seattle.gov/2011/11/02/mayor-outlines-city-light-winter-preparations-encourages-residents-to-get-ready-for-la-nina-too/
Seattle Office of Emergency Management (2014, October 23). Flooding. https://www.seattle.gov/documents/Departments/Emergency/PlansOEM/SHIVA/2014-04- 23_Flooding.pdf
Mike Johnson, Energy and Sustainability, World Campus
The Delaware river is home to many small river towns that offer a great lifestyle for those that choose to live there, and a lovely destination for tourists to visit. These river towns are under threat from increases in flooding events, both from the river itself and flash flooding from surrounding streams and creeks, due to increased frequency, and intensity, of extreme storms and hurricanes. For this assignment I will look at the river town of Lambertville, which I live across from, which just experienced the worst flooding in its recent history due to an extreme precipitation event from Hurricane Ida.
As we’ve learned in the course modules so far, precipitation is not expected to increase dramatically for the mid latitudes where Lambertville is located. However, since the atmosphere is warming and holding more water vapor, there is a possibility that extreme precipitation events will become more frequent, and as a consequence, flash flooding and river flooding more frequent. While we don’t know if hurricane frequency will increase as the earth warms, we have learned that the intensity of hurricanes is expected to increase. As the waters that birth them warm, and the atmosphere warms and is able to hold more moisture. The towns that lie just above the level of the river are highly vulnerable to both flash flooding and river flooding, and either one can be devastating for the people who live there, and for the businesses that operate there. According to NJ.com, over 10 inches of rain fell on Lambertville overnight as a result of Hurricane Ida, which completely overwhelmed local creeks and streams of all sizes and resulted in major flooding throughout the town (Yates, 2021). Images and videos of cars and debris floating down streets inundated social media, and the threat of the river crest a day or so later was worrying to all. For those of us learning about the projected effects of climate change, it was a grim picture of what the future may hold for these river towns.
As we learned in the course material, the northeastern area of the United States is expected to see a dramatic increase in not only the frequency of extreme storms, but in their intensity as well, and Lambertville NJ sits directly in the line of fire of those projected increases. It also lies in the path that many Hurricanes take, both directly from the Atlantic and after they have made landfall and shifted, so river flooding and flash flooding will be an increasing problem as climate change worsens.
Lambertville is firmly aware of its precarious position regarding flooding, and has various mitigation and adaptation strategies proposed, and in various forms of development. According to a Hunterdon County report on Lambertville’s risk assessments, there are plans to do things such as raise vulnerable structures, prevent flood gates from breaching, increase forestry management to mitigate flash flooding, and educate the population on emergency procedures, among many others. (DMA 2000…, 2021).
Yates, R. (2021, September 2). Wall of water from Ida Devastates Bucolic Lambertville, N.J. NJ.com. https://www.nj.com/news/2021/09/a-wall-of-water-from-ida-devastated-this-nj-river town.html.
DMA 2000 Hazard Mitigation Plan Update. (2021, May). Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
Joseph McManus, Political Science, Penn State University
As the planet warms and polar ice melts in the coming century, the sea level is predicted to rise. Under more extreme emissions scenarios, such as the A2 or “business-as-usual” scenario, sea levels could rise over 6 feet from 1992 levels by 2100 (Parris et al., 2012). Even under more optimistic conditions, like the A1B scenario, a rise of 3 feet or more is still possible. This dramatic change would clearly be devastating to low-lying communities like Miami, which sits right at sea level.
Officials predict that rising waters will affect Miami sooner than other major metropolitan areas, forecasting 2 feet of sea-level rise by 2060 (Flavelle & Mazzei, 2021), and around 1 foot by 2040 (Sea Level…, n.d.). In fact, a recent study by the University of Miami has shown that its beaches have flooded more frequently since 2006, in part due to a weakening Gulf Stream (A New…, n.d.). This is perhaps another effect of climate change, as melting ice caps reduce the density of water. At any rate, the Miami coastline is in danger today, and the danger will only increase in the future.
Miami is home to a glut of expensive real estate properties that sit right on the shoreline, which some estimates value in the hundreds of billions (Stewart-Muniz, 2016) The beaches’ natural beauty is a great draw, and wealthy developers clearly have a strong interest in preserving their investments. However, it may be inevitable that large developments are pushed further inland as the coastline loses ground. This raises the specter of “climate gentrification,” where poorer communities are displaced by capital fleeing the rising ocean levels (Flavelle & Mazzei, 2021). One theme of climate change-related threats is that impoverished people unable to pay for expensive mitigations will bear the brunt of the damage. That is no different here, even in one of the wealthiest cities in America.
The city has put forth a $4.6 billion plan to stymie sea level rise and increased storm surge (Allen, 2020). It prominently features a massive sea wall, rising 20 feet in some areas, abutting Miami’s downtown district and city center. Sand is being dredged to fortify beaches and raise homes and businesses. The plan, which was drafted by the Army Corps of Engineers, has come under fierce criticism by local activists, who are calling for the city to investigate more natural solutions to the threat (Rhode-Barbarigos & Haus, 2021; Rhode, 2021). These include managing coral reefs and mangroves, both of which are effective deterrents to storms and rising tides. As we’ve learned, reefs are increasingly threatened by ocean acidification and higher water temperatures. Any reduction in Miami’s natural ability to defend itself would only exacerbate the climate crisis, so education and emphasis on conservation is paramount in this situation.
Parris, A., P. Bromirski, V. Burkett, D. Cayan, M. Culver, J. Hall, R. Horton, K. Knuuti, R. Moss, J. Obeysekera, A. Sallenger, and J. Weiss. 2012. Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the US National Climate Assessment. NOAA Tech Memo OAR CPO-1. 37. https://cpo.noaa.gov/sites/cpo/Reports/2012/NOAA_SLR_r3.pdf
Flavelle, C. & Mazzei, P. (2021, March 2). Miami Says It Can Adapt to Rising Seas. Not Everyone Is Convinced. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/climate/miami-sea-level-rise.html
Sea Level Rise and Flooding. (n.d.). Miami-Dade County. https://www.miamidade.gov/global/economy/resilience/sea-level-rise-flooding.page
A new study headed by the Rosenstiel School shows that sea-level rise is contributing to more frequent flood events. (n.d.). University of Miami. https://climate.miami.edu/the-complex-climate/flooding-events-increase-on-beaches/
Stewart-Muniz, S. (2016, June 1). Miami-Dade’s total property value jumps to $250 billion in 2016. The Real Deal.
Allen, G. (2020, June 13). A $4.6 Billion Plan To Storm-Proof Miami. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2020/06/13/875725714/a-4-6-billion-plan-to-storm-proof-miami
Rhode-Barbarigos, L. & Haus, B. (2021, July 28). A 20-foot sea wall won’t save Miami – how living structures can help protect the coast and keep the paradise vibe. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/a-20-foot-sea-wall-wont-save-miami-how-living-structures-can help-protect-the-coast-and-keep-the-paradise-vibe-165076
Rhode, R. (2021, July 23). Sea level rise threatens Miami’s future. Here’s how the Army Corps can help keep Florida, Florida. Environmental Defense Fund. https://blogs.edf.org/growingreturns/2021/07/23/sea-level-rise-threatens-miamis-future/
Cusick, D. & E&E News. (2020, February 4). Miami Is the “Most Vulnerable” Coastal City Worldwide. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/miami-is-the-most-vulnerable-coastal-city-worldwide/
The Business Case for Resilience in Southeast Florida. (2020, October 13). Knowledge Finder.
Katelyn Ellery, Advertising and Psychology, Penn State University
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and is the nation’s economic center. Located on the Southern tip of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is home to nearly 9 million people, has a startling elevation of 63’, and is predicted to affected by sea level rise. Every year, monsoon season brings heavy rain from May to November, but recently, the flooding has gotten worse, wiping out homes, buildings, and churches. The eastern part of Ho Chi Minh City is the most vulnerable because it has been overdeveloped on top of the Thu Thiem marshland. Rapid building, increased floods, and the weight of infrastructure to support the growing population in the city is causing the land to subside. Additionally, the over-extraction of groundwater has further increased the rate of land subsidence by creating underground cavities that collapse and sink the city and soil. To combat the issue and mitigate in ways the infrastructure of Ho Chi Minh City cannot, authorities have been attempting to slow down groundwater extraction rates and increase the supply of piped water throughout the city. A 23-kilometer sea wall around Ho Chi Minh City and the surrounding regions has also been proposed, but would cost an estimated $6.8 billion to build and would be expensive to maintain. A levee is another potential solution, since the city lies on a river. The sea wall would also have negative impacts on wildlife because it would block nutrients from re-entering the water and create land barriers that disrupt lifecycles. Ho Chi Minh City needs to act fast to avoid the costly effects a few centimeters in sea level rise could bring. It is estimated that one flood could cause $200 million worth of damage. Lastly, rebuilding canals and green spaces would help with drainage in the city. Currently, the density of Ho Chi Minh City’s green spaces is about two square meters per person. Adapting by creating room for nature in the city is the most cost effective way to mitigate the effects of sea level rise in Ho Chi Minh City.
Paulo, D. (2021, February 8). Under Siege By Climate, Man-Made Problems, A Sinking Ho Chi Minh City Fights to Survive. CNA Insider. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/cnainsider/siege-climate-man-made-problems-sinking-ho-chi-minh city-floods-2052231
Lu, Denise & Flavelle, C. (2019, October 9). Rising Seas Will Erase More Cities By 2050, New Research Shows. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/29/climate/coastal-cities-underwater.html
CM Guest Columnist. (2021, February 7). Why Is Ho Chi Minh City Sinking? Cyprus Mail. 2022 from https://cyprus-mail.com/2021/02/07/why-is-ho-chi-minh-city-sinking/
Anton Fatula, Environmental Resource Management, Pennsylvania State University
Given current sea level rise, coastal flooding is becoming more of a norm than an occasional nuisance. For context, flooding has become so frequent and so intense that many US insurance plans are raising rates for properties across the eastern seaboard due to the increased risk of flooding. Globally, the effects are being felt and dealt with in different ways. For some, modern day sea levels are already threatening livelihood and, unfortunately, the rate of these levels rising is not projected to slow down anytime soon.
Lagos, with over 21 million residents, is Nigeria’s largest city and is situated along the Atlantic coast in the southwestern region of the country. Being this close to the ocean, Lagos has felt measurable effects of sea level rise over the last few decades. One lifelong resident, Jola Ajibade, links sea level rise to the increased area of flooding in the city she calls home. As a child, Ajibade recalled localized flooding during periods of heavy rain. Now she notes “that the flooding in Lagos in the last 10 years or more, it isn’t isolated anymore.” Whereas flooding used to occur only in urbanized swampland, “now it is everywhere.” In response, the Nigerian government has implemented relocation plans with the aim of helping communities avoid the looming impacts of climate change. The only problem is that, for poor communities, these plans do more harm than good, that is, if they do anything at all.
Relocation plans presented to coastal slum communities often fail to provide them with anywhere to relocate to and can end up simply kicking people out of their homes. This leaves them with nowhere to live, nowhere to work, and no social or healthcare programs. Furthermore, many of those lucky enough to be provided with homes find that their new structures are often worse than what they had originally and, in some cases, experience just as much flooding. Commonly, relocated families discover worse conditions elsewhere and end up returning to their original homes.
This situation highlights the need for equity across relocation plans and demands that responses to climate change take into account socioeconomic variables alongside practical and political ones. Relocation plans, unless they provide the guarantee of equal living conditions, should not be mandatory and should only offer incentives to move rather than make it a requirement.
Bagley , K. (2021, November 19). Equitable Retreat: The Need for Fairness in Relocating Coastal Communities. Yale E360. https://e360.yale.edu/features/equitable-retreat-the-need-for-fairness-in relocating-coastal-communities.
Ellao, J. A. J. (2013, October 3). From Danger Zones to a Death Zone. Bulatlat. https://www.bulatlat.com/2013/10/22/from-danger-zones-to-a-death-zone/.
Nigeria: Deadly Mass Forced Evictions Make Life Misery for Waterfront Communities. (2017, November 14). Amnesty International. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/11/nigeria-deadly mass-forced-evictions-make-life-misery-for-waterfront-communities/.
Various Authors. (2022). Climate Change Indicators: Costal Flooding. Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-coastal-flooding.
Zaynab Roma Maanaki, Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State University
Onondaga County in New York is located right outside of the city of Syracuse and is home to over 400,000 residents (Onondaga…, n.d.) Some may know Onondaga County for its beautiful Onondaga Lake Park, that provides a view of the Onondaga lake and is home to many cookouts, campers, and visitors. Located in Onondaga County, the Onondaga Creek (Department of Environmental Conservation, n.d.) has been a source of the flooding that Onondaga residents have faced for many years. In October of last year, a heavy rain hit the county which resulted in many residents left with flooded homes, closed roads and school closings (Hayes, 2021). Three days after heavy rain and more flooding, the mayor of Syracuse, New York, Ben Walsh, declared a State of Emergency in Onondaga County due to the flooding and the damage it was creating (Hayes, 2021). Damage wasn’t only done to the homes, roads, and vehicles of Onondaga residents but to the Onondaga Lake park as well, which was unwalkable, with trails under water and benches submerged. Onondaga residents are a vulnerable community when it comes to flood risk. When looking at the Flood Factor website, you can see that Onondaga is at a moderate risk for flooding in the next thirty years (Onondaga County…, n.d.) While this might not seem concerning, this risk is only increasing, and with our unsteady climate, this could put their community at more risk. Through NASA’s Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections, I was able to look at New York in fifteen years and see what changes they expected in precipitation which also gave concerning results for a County that is already at risk. In fifteen years, we expect to see a five to ten percent increase in precipitation in New York compared to this year (NASA Earth…, n.d.).
With this knowledge, you might wonder what the city of Syracuse has done to protect the residents of Onondaga County to prevent further flood damage. The Department of Environmental Conservation created a plan called the “Syracuse Flood Damage Reduction Project”, this project plans to put a dam and a reservoir on the Onondaga Creek. They did this in 1940 which has helped to prevent more damage (Department of Environmental Conservation, n.d.). The community within Onondaga has been impacted by Onondaga Lake way before the flooding in October, this is due to Allied Chemical dumping over 150,000 pounds of mercury into the Onondaga Lake. This mercury pollution isn’t just a threat to the environment but also impacts wildlife in the lake, as well as humans who consume water or eat fish from the lake. (Kolb, 2020) The city of Syracuse and Onondaga County are estimating that it will cost 451 million dollars to make the lake safe again for wildlife and humans. They plan to build fishing piers and place bird nesting areas around the lake after cleanup to rebuild a healthy environment not only for wildlife for Onondaga County residents (Coin, 2014).
Department of Environmental Conservation. (n.d.). New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. https://www.dec.ny.gov/
Coin, G. (2014, May 19). Honeywell’s cost to Clean Onondaga Lake could soar as environmental harm become clearer. syracuse. https://www.syracuse.com/news/2014/05/honeywells_cost_to_clean_onondaga_lake_could_s oar_as_wider_environmental_damages.html
Hayes, A. (2021, August 19). Heavy rains flood scores of basements, close roads across Onondaga County; more rain falling. syracuse. https://www.syracuse.com/weather/2021/08/heavy-rains-flood-scores-of-basements-close roads-across-onondaga-county-more-rain-falling.html
Hepp, J., Perez, K., Karlin, H., Vogt, H., Baxter, D., Ferrera, H., Staff, T. D. O. S., Weiss, A., & Cammett, D. (2020, September 24). Mercury pollution has threatened Onondaga Lake Wildlife for decades.The Daily Orange. https://dailyorange.com/2020/09/mercury-pollution-threatened-onondaga-lake-wildlife-decades/
NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections (NEX-GDDP-CMIP6). (n.d.). NASA. https://www.nccs.nasa.gov/services/data-collections/land-based-products/nex-gddp-cmip6
Onondaga County, New York. (n.d.). Flood Factor. https://floodfactor.com/county/onondaga-county-newyork/36067_fsid
Onondaga Lake Park. (n.d.). Onondaga County Parks. https://www.onondagacountyparks.com/parks/onondaga-lake-park/
Onondaga, New York. (2021, July 30). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onondaga,_New_York
Joshua D. Contreras, Economics, Penn State University
Within Pibor county located in South Sudan is the small village of Lekuangole. Within the village the population of households that are experiencing food gaps are above 20% and approximately a third of children under the age of five years old are acutely malnourished. According to the ‘Save the Children’ organization, Pibor county has one of the highest child mortality rates across the globe claiming the lives of 90 out of 1,000 children before their fifth birthday. While the famine issue in South Sudan is complex due to the political climate and the recent pandemic; food shortages have been an ongoing issue within the region due to the atypical floods that hit the area between June 2019 through January 2020. The floods had destroyed up to 3,000 tons of cereal production and killed off over 9,000 livestock animals and disrupted an additional 430,000 livestock breeds in the area. The floods in Pibor county had also had negative impacts on the populace in the area by destroying homes, key agricultural infrastructure (set up by the local government and populace), and cutting off external agencies from providing aid. This resulted in a massive displacement of over 220 thousand people.
Based on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) recommendations to remedy the famine issue the region will first need to be politically stabilized to remove the fighting groups from utilizing the humanitarian food aid as currency. Once the region is rid of the rebel groups in the area IPC has a firm belief that it will bring Pibor county from a phase 5 to a phase 3 famine to which non-governmental organizations will have higher capabilities to provide humanitarian aid that includes medicine and water services. Unfortunately, until such drastic measures are exercised, the IPC is estimating that displacement will continue to occur, and the mortality rate will continue to rise. Having worked with NGOs and in areas similar to Lekuangole in my previous career field, pumping money into the region will not absolve the issues faced by the civilian population as the money never reaches the people in such a direct manner. While NGOs and diplomatic services are sensitive to providing an ethnocentric approach (evaluating problems and solutions in a way that considers the culture’s values and standards) to the people the response suggested by the IPC will need to be swifter or else there could be consequences of this becoming an Eastern Africa problem and not just a Sudanese issue.
Integrated Food Security Phase Classification. (2020, November). IPC Famine Review. IPC.
Mednick, S. (2021, January 20). In South Sudan, the politicization of famine may hinder a response. Devex. https://www.devex.com/news/in-south sudan-the-politicization-of-famine-may-hinder-a-response-98936
Mednick, S. (2021b, February 8). Floods, fighting, famine: Inside South Sudan’s triple crisis. The New Humanitarian.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2020, December). Jonglei and Greater Pibor Administrative Area. OCHA. https://southsudan.humanitarianresponse.info
Joshua D. Contreras, Economics, Penn State University
While the Chinese government continues to aggressively invest in their cloud seeding program ‘Sky River’ there comes concerns to the Kazipur people located just south of China in Bangladesh. Though China had developed the program as an attempt to deal with their domestic issues of resolving droughts in the eastern part of the country and cooling down the northeast region which has experienced a temperature increase between five and nine degrees centigrade. There have been unforeseen complications with the land area that Sky River can effectively target. Sky River has been linked to not only affecting the weather in China but also affecting over 5.5 million square kilometers of airspace between itself, Bangladesh, and India. Scientists from the tri-country area have expressed their apprehensiveness in the project due to a lack of substantive research that has been completed on cloud seeding before launching the project.
The Kazipur people have been subject to flooding as the Jamuna River has risen over twenty-three centimeters. Homes, businesses, and education facilities have been destroyed and the flooding has been responsible for displacing over 20 thousand families. To cope, villagers have taken their livestock and whatever furniture they could carry to local shelters and made make-shift dams until the Upazila (local administration services) can provide assistance.
Bangladeshis’ officials have expressed their concerns for China’s geoengineering project stating that Bangladesh has more to lose as their infrastructure is not equipped to deal with the fallout of failed projects and there is a risk of losing what little agriculture Bangladesh does have to severe floods. The Bangladeshis are also not convinced with the computer simulations that are the current backbone for forecasts of the geoengineering resolutions that have been proposed. As the earth may or may not have similar real-life conditions that have been generated within the artificial program. While Bangladesh seems to be a point of friction for China to adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement there is still open dialogue between the two countries which continues to provide hope that China can continue to financially support the research for solar geoengineering in the Southeast region of Asia.
bdnews24.com. (2019, July 18). Floods devastate over 900 villages in Sirajganj as Jamuna River rises. https://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/floods devastate-over-900-villages-in-sirajganj-as-jamuna-river-rises
International Military Council on Climate and Security. (2020, July). Climate and Security in the Indo-Asia Pacific. https://imccs.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Climate-Security-Indo Asia-Pacific_2020_7.pdf
Jayaram, D., & Bhattacharjee, K. (2020, December 19). China’s geoengineering push dangerous for the region. The Sunday Guardian Live. https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/chinas-geoengineering-push-dangerous region
Rahman, A. A. (2018). Developing countries must lead on solar Geoengineering research. Nature. https://media.nature.com/original/magazine-assets/d41586-018-03917-8/d41586- 018-03917-8.pdf
Unfccc.int. (n.d.). https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement
Yashvi Maniar, Business Management, Penn State University
Climate change is real, and as the days go by, calamities are reminding us that we need to change before it will be too late for us to make any changes. From heatwaves, tornadoes, and hurricanes to flooding, we are witnessing these very often now. Simple services like food delivery have become difficult in cities of South India, especially in the monsoon season. News articles with drivers from delivery services walking through four feet of water to deliver food have been all over. South India is not unfamiliar with flooding, and it happens to be something they have been witnessing often of late.
In October 2021, heavy rains that resulted in flash floods and landslides in Kochi, Kerala, India killed 22 people. The army and navy had to come out to rescue residents, however, this was not the worst flooding they had witnessed in the last century. The flood of 2018 killed nearly 400 people and resulted in over 200,000 people getting displaced. During this time, the rainfall was 116% more than usual, which led to dams filling up to their max capacities and for the first time in Kerala’s history 35 of 54 of its dams opened leading to flooding in 14 districts mainly Chengannur, Pandanad, Edanad, Aranmula and Thrissur among others. It was declared a Level 3 Calamity. Nearly 10,000 km of roads, as well as thousands of homes were destroyed. Scientists from IIT blamed it on poor dam management, but climate change played a crucial role in this as well.
The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority kept a vigilant watch and opened over 3,274 relief camps. Cochin International Airport which is one of India’s busiest airports was also shut down due to the flooding of the runway. The response by the authorities resulted in a lot of lives being saved. The recurring flood events in the states led to studies stating the westward propagating high frequency tropical waves appeared as anticyclonic and cyclonic circulation and resulted in moisture being transported. The intensification in the mid-troposphere was due to this convection activity which played a key factor in driving recurring anomalous precipitation. A solution for this is still impending as the State’s response to this was to deny the scientist’s analysis, and blame the problem of the dam upon the neighboring state Tamil Nadu.
Reuters. (2021, October 18). More than 20 dead after floods in south India. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2021/10/18/south-india-floods-kill-at-least-20/
2018 Kerala floods. (2022). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Kerala_floods#Causes
Reuters. (2021, October 18). More than 20 dead after floods in south India. NBC News.
Ammar Badri, Penn State University
My sixth script is about how coastal erosion poses a serious threat to the UK’s small coastal community of Happisburgh in Norfolk. Since the cliffs around the settlement are mostly made of soft glacial deposits, erosion brought on by storms, waves, and rising sea levels is a serious concern. In recent decades, this process has quickened, and the village is currently losing about 1.5 meters of land per year.
Why is that neighborhood at risk?
Due to a number of causes, Happisburgh is particularly susceptible to coastal erosion. Its location on the UK’s east coast exposes it to strong North Sea storm surges, which can hasten the rate of erosion. Second, compared to tougher rock types, the village’s foundation is made of softer sedimentary rocks, which are more prone to erosion. Finally, the coastline has been exposed due to insufficient or badly maintained coastal defensive systems like sea walls and groins.
What effects are anticipated on the neighborhood?
The effects that coastal erosion is expected to have on Happisburgh are grave. The hamlet faces the possibility of losing significant infrastructure, agricultural land, and historic structures in the ensuing decades. In addition, the loss of coastal attractions will also hurt the local economy, which depends
heavily on tourism. If no effective mitigation measures are put in place, the most dire predictions state that the entire town may vanish within the next century.
What are the threats’ remedies?
At Happisburgh, the problem of coastal erosion must be addressed in a number of different ways. Short-term options include building new coastal defenses as well as enhancing and maintaining current ones like sea walls and groins. Long-term controlled retreat methods should be taken into account, moving important infrastructure and residences inland while letting the coastline evolve naturally. The neighborhood should also concentrate on educating people about the problem and pushing for national regulations that address coastal erosion and climate change adaptation.
Christopher Caccese, Penn State University
Lagos is the largest city in Africa and has always had a history of flooding. This comes from the city being situated on the coast, where it is susceptible to ocean surges washing away parts of the city.
Unfortunately, as a result of climate change causing ice melt, floods are expected to become even worse.
Since Lagos is on the coast, its elevation is at sea level. In addition, some of the higher-density areas of the city of Lagos are situated right on or near water. These higher-density areas also contain some of the poorer areas of Lagos including Bariga, Amukoko, and Iwaya, among others. The infrastructure of these parts of Lagos is not particularly strong and cannot well handle the flooding that Lagos is experiencing. In fact, in 2012, heavy rains alone resulted in flooding that killed 363 people and displaced over 2 million (“Nigeria Floods”).
In the future, ocean surges are expected to become much worse. Climate change is causing sea levels to rise worldwide which would be detrimental to low-lying coastal cities like Lagos. One estimate says that a rise in the average global temperature of 3º C would cause sea levels to rise enough to displace one-third of the city’s population, which would be almost 5 million people (“Rising Sea Levels”). This massive displacement of Africa’s largest city only accounts for the sea level rise without including the impact of future ocean surges, which of course would be higher in elevation and even more detrimental than ones in the past.
The most obvious solution to this problem would be to try and curb rising temperatures altogether. Specifically in Lagos, people will have to move to higher and safer elevations, something that many people have already had to do and will probably have to do again (Raheem). This is because Lagos had poor city planning to prepare for coastal flooding (“Rising Sea Levels”).
Nigeria Floods Displace Two Million, Kill 363. 92012, November 6). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-20221451.
Raheem, H. (2022, June 22). Nigeria’s Homes Are Vanishing into the Sea from Climate Change. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/nigerias-homes-are-vanishing into-sea-climate-change-2022-06-22/.
Rising Sea Levels and Africa’s Booming Coastal Cities – Africa Center. (2022, November 8). Africa Center for Strategic Studies. https://africacenter.org/spotlight/rising-sea-levels-besieging africas-booming-coastal-cities-lagos-dakar-alexandria-maputo-nile/.
Salau, O. (2020, June 23). Lagos State Is Likely to Get Hotter and More Humid, Leading to Greater Health Risks. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/lagos-state-is likely-to-get-hotter-and-more-humid-leading-to-greater-health-risks-140327.
Christopher Caccese, Penn State University
Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala and is the largest city in the country with a population of just under one million people. The area can at some points experience heavy rainfall and has had somewhat of a history of mudslides as a result.
While mudslides have occurred in the past and have often claimed lives, El Niño makes the risk of mudslides much greater. The 2015-2016 El Niño for example had caused heavy rainfall in Central America. Eventually, on October 1, 2015, the heavy rain resulted in a mudslide in Santa Caterina Pinula, just outside Guatemala City (“Guatemala Mudslide”). The impact was catastrophic as 280 people were killed and 70 went missing. While Central America, in general, receives heavy rain in these conditions, Guatemala City is particularly vulnerable because it is located in the mountainous region of the country. At the same time, Guatemala City is the third most populated city in all of Central America, making the risk to human life much greater.
Unfortunately, the future does not look bright when it comes to mudslides. Many of the residents in Guatemala City live well below the poverty level and as such live in poorly constructed squatter homes wherever they can find space, which tends to be steep hills and ravines. Additionally, El Niños in the future will again create a higher risk of mudslides and at the same time, other extreme weather events will drop more water in the future as a result of climate change, further increasing the frequency of mudslides.
To reduce these threats, more planning is required in residential areas. Doing more to stabilize land before it is built on is key as improving drainage so that there is no risk of a build-up of water (“Guatemala Urban”). The easiest solution would be to have strictly enforced no building zones in areas of high risk of mudslides.
Guatemala Mudslide Area Declared Uninhabitable. (2015, October 6). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-34453407.
Guatemala Urban Disaster Risk Reduction. (n.d.). Guatemala Urban Disaster Risk Reduction. Western Washington University. https://cenv.wwu.edu/ri/guatemala-urban-disaster-risk-reduction.
Mapping Landslide Hazards in Central America. (2020, November 19). NASA. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/147542/mapping-landslide-hazards-in-central America.
Moloney, A. (2015, December 2). Which Countries Are Worst Affected by El Nino? World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/12/which-countries-are-worst-affected-by el-nino/.
Elena Caputo, Penn State Univeristy
Karachi, Pakistan is a diverse city settled on the Arabian Sea with over 20 million inhabitants, and it is the country’s commercial capital, generating over half of Pakistan’s total revenue. However, since August 2020, it has also been deeply impacted by flooding and record-high temperatures.
On August 27, 2020, Karachi received nearly 9 inches of rainfall which is the most rain in a single day ever recorded in the nation’s history. The rest of the month brought another ten inches, and while this may not seem like a lot, it’s a disastrous amount for a country with no functional drainage or emergency relief systems. Thousands of homes were destroyed in the resulting floods and over 100 people were killed. It left the entire city at a standstill for about a week, and Pakistan’s GDP lost $449 million per day.
The flooding Karachi has suffered from is directly tied to climate change. Excessive rainfall is often the effect of the unprecedented monsoon seasons Pakistan has faced in the last few years. In the last decade alone, scientists have noticed that the monsoons hitting the area have become far more powerful and frequent than they were previously. Additionally, the country is seated at the foot of the Hindu Kush, the Himalayas, and the Karakoram, which are all melting at an accelerated pace thanks to climate change. If the rate of climate change continues, these mountains could lose up to 2/3 of their ice fields by 2100, opening the surrounding areas up to landslides, heavier flooding, and deep soil erosion. Unfortunately, with Pakistan’s limited options for change, the situation will only worsen, especially for already disadvantaged groups. Karachi will need to implement better flood control such as levees and dams. Though Karachi’s wealthier citizens may be able to pay for new infrastructure to protect their homes and lives, the vast majority of the city will be left to continued devastation.
Bhutto, F. (2020, September 27). Pakistan’s Most Terrifying Adversary Is Climate Change. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/27/opinion/pakistan-climate-change.html
Qayam, K. & Dilawar, I. (2020, August 27). Unprecedented Monsoon Rains Kill At Least 15 in Karachi. Bloomberg. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-28/record-august-rains-kill-15-people-disrupt-karachi-businesses#xj4y7vzkg
Mikada Green, Penn State University
The community in Majuro, a coral atoll part of the Marshall Islands, is threatened by extreme flooding or “king tides” connected to melting ice and rising sea levels (Bordner & Ferguson, 2020). This community is especially vulnerable to climate change because they are a small, developing island with an elevation barely above sea level. According to one U.S. Geological Survey, many of the Marshall Islands will be completely underwater by 2035 (Bordner & Ferguson, 2020). Majuro, like most islands in the Marshall Island region, is a narrow strip of land with elevated ridges on the ocean side and a lower elevated lagoon side. The people of Majuro face coastal hazards on both sides of their homeland, specifically storm surges and tidal flooding (The World Bank, 2021).
Forecasted impacts to the Majuro community, if no changes are made, are threatened food and water supplies due to saltwater intrusion, the destruction of important public buildings that provide services for many other atolls, and ultimately, uninhabitable land. Islands still above water after the 2035 projection will face saltwater contamination in aquifers used to supply the community with fresh water used for drinking, cooking, and agriculture (Bordner & Ferguson, 2020).
There are five main solutions the World Bank has devised to adapt to this threat: protect, rise, reclaim, relocate, and migrate (The World Bank, 2021). To protect land, infrastructure such as seawalls and revetments can be built to decrease flooding damage. Raising buildings and land, while expensive, can resolve the issue of low elevation and vulnerability to rising sea levels. Reclaiming land means rebuilding land that once existed on top of the island lagoons by dredging reefs to decrease flood threats (Letman, 2018). Finally, relocating to urban atolls and migrating to other countries, often the U.S., are worst-case scenario options if extreme climate changes do not slow (The World Bank, 2021).
Bordner, A., & Ferguson, C. E. (2023, January 31). Marshall Islands could be wiped out by climate change – and their colonial history limits their ability to save themselves. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/marshall islands-could-be-wiped-out-by-climate-change-and-their-colonial-history-limits-their ability-to-save-themselves-145994.
Letman, J. (2021, May 3). Rising seas give marshall islands a stark choice: Relocate or elevate. Environment.
The World Bank. (2021, October 22). Adapting to rising sea levels in Marshall Islands. https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/8c715dcc5781421ebff46f35ef34a04d
Grant Hoffer, Penn State University
The City of Greensburg is a small city of around 14,976 people located in Westmoreland County in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania (U.S. Census Bureau). Currently, Greensburg enjoys an average annual 24-hour high temperature of 67 degrees Fahrenheit, an average 24-hour low temperature of 39 degrees Fahrenheit, and annual precipitation of 43.16 inches (Weather). Like most of Pennsylvania, Greensburg is forecasted to suffer the effects of hotter temperatures and increased rainfall as the impacts of climate change worsen (Climate Change Impacts). The anticipated heavy precipitation is likely to be an issue for this community due to its location in the Appalachian Mountains; the hilly and mountainous terrain increases the likelihood of flash floods and landslides occurring. Of these two hazards, flooding is projected to be the most threatening that could impact human health and safety as well as agriculture and infrastructure (Climate Change Impacts). In addition to the physical risks of heavy precipitation, higher temperatures are also likely to cause an increase in illnesses or deaths caused by heat. Furthermore, climate change has already allowed for mosquito and tick populations to thrive in Pennsylvania; the citizens of Greensburg, PA are likely to experience an increase in insect-borne diseases as a result (Climate Change Impacts). Solutions to these issues facing Greensburg include supporting agriculture and wildlife areas to adapt to a warmer climate and enacting flood and landslide mitigation tactics. Given that flooding is the most pressing hazard facing Greensburg, one method to address this danger is by changing zoning and building codes within the city to require some form of flood prevention mechanism or design (Dodman et al., 2022).
Climate Change Impacts. Department of Environmental Protection. (2021, May). Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/climate/Pages/impacts.aspx
Dodman, D., Hayward, B., Pelling, M., Castan Broto, V., Chow, W., Chu, E., Dawson, R., Khirfan, L., McPhearson, T., Prakash, A., Zheng, Y., & Ziervogel, G. (2022) Cities, Settlements and Key Infrastructure. Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA, pp. 907–1040, doi:10.1017/9781009325844.008
U.S. Census Bureau quickfacts: Greensburg City, Pennsylvania. (n.d.). United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/greensburgcitypennsylvania/PST045222
Weather averages Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Temperature – Precipitation – Sunshine – Snowfall. (n.d.).
Melissa Lopez, Penn State University
Here in the state of Pennsylvania cities are facing projections that will alter life as we know it. From rising temperatures to melting permafrost, there are many issues we will soon face. However, many cities are grappling with a projected increase in precipitation due to climate change that will devastate most of our state. Especially cities and towns that border our major rivers such as the city of Wilkes Barre are extremely vulnerable as it borders the Susquehanna River, one of PA’s largest rivers. The increase in precipitation leads to increased flood risk. We have already seen what increased precipitation can do here. The devastation that comes with floods, such as the Agnes tropical storm flooding in 1972, will never be forgotten. Buildings were inundated by flood waters after our levees gave out. Agnes caused water to crest 20 feet over the flood stage (Donegan, 2022). The rise caused 19 miles of flooding (USGS, 2022). It was estimated that Agnes brought 1 billion in damages, and displaced almost 80,000 people (Bohinski, 2022). To address such vulnerability, new levee systems were implemented in 1979 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The levees proved strong for Wilkes Barre in 2011 when the city was once again faced with increased precipitation due to tropical storm Lee, which broke the record cresting at 42.66 feet, 1.75 feet higher than the record Agnes set in 1972 (Freedman, 2011). Such innovations and upkeep of the levee systems will need to be constantly reviewed to ensure the city is safe under pressures of increased rises in precipitation. As rain is projected to increase by 8% by 2050, the risk of flooding rises dramatically (DEP, 2022). Impacts in Wilkes Barre are forecasted to include a 50% rise in flood vulnerability (Mcdevitt, 2021). Plans have been under discussion to invest in our levee system; however, costs remain the major issue to overcome.
Donegan, B. (2022, June 22). 50 Years Ago, 1972’s Hurricane Agnes Killed 122 People and Caused More than $2 Billion in Damage in Eastern US. Fox Weather. https://www.foxweather.com/extreme-weather/hurricane-agnes-june-1972-flooding-pennsylvania new-york.
50th Anniversary of Hurricane Agnes: U.S. Geological Survey. (n.d.). USGS. https://www.usgs.gov/centers/pennsylvania-water-science center/news/50th-anniversary-hurricane-agnes.
Bohinski, C. (2022, June 16). Agnes at Fifty: Historic Damage. PAhomepage.com. https://www.pahomepage.com/agnes-at-fifty/agnes-at-fifty-historic-damage/.
Freedman, A. (2011, September 12). Historic Flooding Recedes in Pennsylvania, New York; at Least 15 Dead. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital weather-gang/post/historic-flooding-recedes-in-pennsylvania-new-york-at-least-15- dead/2011/09/11/gIQABL67MK_blog.html.
Pa Dep GIS, https://gis.dep.pa.gov/ClimateChange/index.html.\
McDevitt, R. (2021, December 23). Study: Flood Risk Rising across Pennsylvania as Climate Changes | Stateimpact Pennsylvania. NPR.
Bennett Matthews, Penn State University
The next El Niño cycle is projected to occur starting in summer 2023. El Niño can have devastating effects on coastal Pacific communities, especially communities that rely primarily on agriculture; it brings increased rainfall, and therefore flooding. Pajaro is a small farming community in Monterey County, California, that is part of “America’s Salad Bowl,” the agricultural area that grows over half of the nation’s
vegetables. The area just sustained massive amounts of flooding when levees failed, putting a large amount of farmland underwater. The floods are predicted to continue, and they are only going to worsen during El Niño. Pajaro is already a marginalized community- over 70% of the population is people of color, and the community is made of mostly migrant farmworkers and low-income families- and it carries a history of neglect by state and local officials. There have only been three Latino supervisors elected to the Board, and the community desperately needs more advocacy and support. The levee failure was bound to happen eventually; it was old, and officials had known for some time that it had the potential to fail, but repeatedly stalled repair efforts. Damage calculations are taking longer than usual because the damage is localized, so FEMA aid to the community will be delayed if it is even approved at all. The solution to the problem would be to fund more infrastructure projects in the town to have the proper safety nets in place in the event that a disaster like this happens again. But because a large number of the residents are living in the country illegally, they may be worried about speaking up about their living conditions. With El Niño around the corner and no infrastructure improvements or community support in sight, Pajaro is set to experience another brutal flooding season, leaving destruction and devastation in its wake.
El Niño. (n.d.). UCMP. https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/education/dynamic/session4/sess4_hydroatmo3.html.
CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER. (2023, August 10). NCEP. https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/ensodisc.shtml
Andrews, H. (2023, March 19). California crops lost after floods; how much of the US will feel the shortage? Fox Weather. https://www.foxweather.com/extreme-weather/california-crops-lost-floods-shortage
Arango, T. & Hubler, S. (2023, March 14). California Levee Failures Mount as Storms Continue Relentless Drive. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/14/us/california-storm-pajaro-levee.html?auth=login-google1tap&login=google1tap
Rust, S. & Vives, R. (2023, March 20). How a long history of racism and neglect set the stage for Pajaro flooding. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-03-20/a-long-history-of-racism-set-the-stage-for-pajaro-flooding
Los Angeles Times. (2023, March 23). Why is pajaro not deemed a FEMA disaster after massive flooding from California storms?. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-03-23/why-is-pajaro-not-considered-a-disaster
Nicholas Rovera, Penn State University
The threat I want to analyze is the flooding of the United States’ major rivers, specifically the 3 rivers that flow through Pittsburgh in Western PA. Flooding has become an increasingly apparent threat to any river city in the US due to more extreme precipitation events because of climate change, and Pittsburgh is no different. Currently, the city’s rivers reach their flood levels at least once a year most years, which doesn’t bode well for the future.
I chose to focus this analysis on Pittsburgh as it’s one of the largest river cities in the country, the economic and cultural hub for Western Pennsylvania as well as parts of Eastern Ohio and West Virginia. It plays a vital role in the region and is particularly vulnerable to flooding due to being on the confluence of 2 major rivers. Additionally, this city is particularly important to me because it’s my hometown, and
I’ve seen firsthand how the risk of flooding has increased over time.
Currently, the impacts of flooding in Pittsburgh are nothing terrible. Residents living in some of the lower-lying areas on the banks of the river suffer from occasional flooding, but nothing more than that. However, as the rivers’ swell levels continue to increase as precipitation in the region increases, more and more residents will have to be displaced in order to avoid living in constant danger of sudden flooding. The alternative is the city spending a proposed $50 billion on a new flood control system, which would be a significant economic toll on the city.
In terms of combatting this threat, increasing the natural space between the riverbanks and developed areas is a good way to reduce flooding. This is similar to how mangrove trees make for good natural protection against rising sea levels. Pittsburgh could also try preemptively relocating threatened households, but this raises some other interesting, potentially morally ambiguous questions.
Pittsburgh. (2023). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittsburgh
Flash Flood Climatology Pittsburgh, PA. (n.d.). National Weather Service. https://www.weather.gov/pbz/flashfloodclimo
How to reduce flood risk in your city. (2021, November). C40 Knowledge. https://www.c40knowledgehub.org/s/article/How-to-reduce-flood-risk-in-your-city?language=en_US.
Andrew Saldana, Penn State University
Miami is a major city that frequently experiences severe flooding round-year from thunderstorms and hurricanes during the hurricane season. Considering its location in the subtropical region with an average elevation of six feet makes the entire city flood-prone. Climate change is not helping in any way, as the sea level is rising and will continue to do so from the melting ice and glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. Other factors that make this region so vulnerable to flooding are the king tides experienced along the coast from September through November. With high tides and huge waves crashing down, the ocean waters can reach into communities flooding neighborhoods on a sunny day. Miami is no stranger to rain bombs; they are isolated thunderstorms that bring torrential downpours and quickly flood communities. Over the next several decades, Miami expects to see floods worsen. Compared to the average sea level from 1992, in 2030, the expected sea-level rise should be between six to ten inches. In 2060, that value is supposed to reach fourteen to thirty-four inches above the average sea level of 1992. Numbers like these bring catastrophic conditions to Miami, as parts of the city would be flooded on any given day. The city of Miami takes Climate Change seriously and has several plans to prevent situations like these. The main one is the stormwater master plan, where they will improve flood risk maps and the drainage system, in addition, they will build sea walls across the coast. Another goal of Miami is to be carbon neutral by the year 2050; the intake and release of carbon dioxide would have no net into the atmosphere. Flooding is an everyday risk in Miami, but with the effort made by the city, they should be ready for what is to come.
Climate Change in the City of Miami. (n.d.). Miami. https://www.miamigov.com/My-Government/ClimateChange.
King Tides. (n.d.). Miami. https://www.miamigov.com/My-Government/ClimateChange/King-Tides.
Darla Walton, Penn State University
I will be discussing the cause of high flooding levels in New York City by the impact of climate change. The threat of climate change in NYC increased flooding brought on by climate change, which is brought on by global warming, poses a threat to New York City. Sea levels increase because of glacier and ice cap melting brought on by global warming, leaving coastal towns like New York more susceptible to flooding from storm surges and severe rain. The location on the coast and the low-lying topography of New York City makes it particularly susceptible to flooding. More than 400,000 people call New York City home, and a large portion of the city’s vital infrastructure, such as the airports and subways, is situated there. A further obstacle to climate adaptation in the city is its old infrastructure. Flooding in New York City is expected to have disastrous effects owing to climate change. According to research done by the city’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, the sea level is expected to increase by up to 30 inches by 2050, putting the homes of over 800,000 New Yorkers at risk of flooding. The flooding would also endanger the city’s water supply, disrupt the city’s transit network, and result in billions of dollars in property damage. New York City has put numerous measures into place to lessen the potential of floods. The city has made investments in infrastructure upgrades like building seawalls and elevating vital infrastructure. The city is also investing in green infrastructure, including as parks and green roofs, which absorb rainwater and lessen flooding, and updating its stormwater management systems. Additionally, New York City has put policies and programs into place to lessen its carbon footprint and mitigate global warming, such as the 80 x 50 effort, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. These initiatives seek to increase New York City’s resilience to climate change effects, especially floods.
Rosenzweig, C., Solecki, W.D., & Hammer, S. A. (2010). Climate change and a global city: The potential consequences of climate variability and change. Metro East Coast. Report for the energy efficiency and environmental protection advisory council of the Northeast States. Metropolitan East Cost Regional Assessment. New York, NY: Columbian Earth Institute. NYC Climate Resiliency Report. NYC Office of the Mayor, 2019. https://www.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/plans-studies/climate resiliency/flood-risk-nyc-info-brief.pdf
Carlin Blash, Penn State University
The threat to Fleming-Neon, Kentucky is devastating flooding caused by extreme precipitation events (Rojas et al., 2022). Fleming-Neon is a small town that experienced the rapid growth and collapse of the coal mining industry in the Appalachian Mountains (Rojas et al., 2022). The waning of the mining industry means the economy of Fleming-Neon has rapidly declined so that infrastructure has been left out of date, failing during extreme precipitation events, and leaving people without electricity and water (Rojas et al., 2022). Additionally, nearby mining sites that have not been properly reclaimed can decrease the absorption of precipitation and cause more catastrophic flooding (Rojas et al., 2022). These factors combine to make extreme precipitation more hazardous in Fleming-Neon and increase the possibility of much-needed help being unattainable during these events. This isolation makes the community more vulnerable to the dangers of extreme precipitation.
Global warming causes an increase in moisture in the atmosphere which then leads to a higher frequency of extreme precipitation events and flooding (Rojas et al., 2022). With its location in the mountains, Fleming-Neon is likely to experience more extreme precipitation events in the future (Rojas et al., 2022). Without proper infrastructure such as houses designed to withstand flooding, the people of Fleming-Neon will be homeless since current homes cannot endure intense floods (Rojas et al., 2022). Additionally, poorly maintained roads and bridges could be washed out by flooding (Rojas et al., 2022). This will leave Fleming-Neon isolated from nearby help when it is crucially needed. Older methods of transporting water and electricity that break down during flooding will lead to outages that could take weeks to restore (Rojas et al., 2022). Without access to fresh water and electricity, people struggle to survive. Fleming-Neon is comprised mostly of older adults who suffer financially and experience poor health from years of coal mining (Rojas et al., 2022). This means they are at a greater risk of heat-related deaths without air conditioning during blackouts and cannot collect and use alternative water sources during water outages. They also do not have the financial support to easily evacuate so put their lives at risk by staying.
One solution is for the U.S. government to assist people financially in fixing their homes (Rojas et al., 2022). This money could come from federal aid or relief packages and would enable people to rebuild their homes to be better able to withstand the damages of flooding (Rojas et al., 2022). This would ensure them proper shelter during future extreme precipitation events. Ultimately, the best solution would be for the federal government to provide aid to Fleming-Neon so they can update their infrastructure (Rojas et al., 2022). Updated infrastructure could tolerate battering during extreme precipitation without failing. This would ensure reliable access to electricity and fresh water even during extreme precipitation and flooding. Improved roads would also not be washed out by extreme precipitation, allowing for help to reach Fleming-Neon whenever necessary. This would keep the current population who does not want or cannot afford to move, safe.
Flavelle, C. (2020, August 26). U.S. Flood Strategy Shifts to ‘Unavoidable’ Relocation of Entire Neighborhoods. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/26/climate/flooding relocation-managed-retreat.html
Rojas, R., Flavelle, C., Robertson, C. (2022, April 04). How Coal Mining and Years of Neglect Left Kentucky Towns at the Mercy of Flooding. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/04/us/kentucky-flooding-coal-industry.html?searchResultPosition=9
Ava Fearer, Penn State University
Last year, the country of Belgium was hit with massive flooding which greatly affected the province of Liège, displacing and even killing some residents. This flood caused the Vesdre River, in this province, to overflow due to the torrential downpours as it increased three and a half meters in just one day last July. This caused bridges and houses to collapse as well as some fatalities. Overall, the flooding caused massive destruction to public infrastructure and left thousands of residents without electricity.
Liège and other cities in Belgium as well as Germany have been victims of floods in the past but haven’t seen rainfall quite like this in decades. While there are many reasons which may explain flooding, climate change does have a role. As a result of climate change, the air is typically warmer which allows more moisture to be held as opposed to cooler air which may lead to stronger and more frequent flooding and rain in general. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and subsequently warm the globe, precipitation events like these floods are projected to continue to happen. This increase in rain because of warmer air which can hold more moisture increases the likelihood that floods like the one in Liège will continue to happen. Because the atmosphere has more moisture and thus retains the water vapor, more intense rain or flooding may happen.
Liège is so vulnerable to heavy rain and flooding to begin with because it is a low-lying city with a large population as well as a high percentage of construction being built in flood-prone regions. In terms of solutions, Belgium, as a country, has produced a plan to reduce runoff water on slopes, create crisis management strategies to mitigate the problem should a flood occur again, improve river management, and ban construction in areas that have experienced or are predicted to experience extreme flooding. As talk of climate change and floods increase, it is often the topic of political discussions in Belgium which is encouraging officials to create better aid relief plans and reevaluate the country’s plan and stance on climate change.
Flood disaster: Severe destruction in the province of Liège. (2021, July 16). Teller Report. https://www.tellerreport.com/news/2021-07-16-flood-disaster–severe-destruction-in-the-province-of-li%C3%A8ge.ryQR2yQ1Cu.html
Schmidt, N., Elwazer, S., Wojazer, B., & Braithwaite, S. (2021, July 16). Germany mounts huge rescue effort after floods leave dozens dead and many more missing. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/15/europe/germany-deaths-severe-flooding-intl/index.html.
Davies, R. (2021, July 16). Belgium – Thousands Evacuate Floods as Death Toll Rises. Flood List. https://floodlist.com/europe/floods-belgium-july-2021.
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Megan Mahlandt, Penn State University
Located on one of the world’s most populous islands, Jakarta, Indonesia is known for its strong economy, busy streets, and buzzing nightlife. However, Jakartaerious danger of sinking underwater in the not-so-distant future due to the threats brought on by climate change. Not only is Jakarta located on the North West Coast of Indonesia, but it also is a port that sits on a delta. A delta is a wetland that’s formed by the deposition of sediment and water carried by a river. Jakarta has an astounding thirteen rivers that pass through it on their way to Jakarta Bay, which makes it highly susceptible to extreme flooding (National Geographic). In addition to heavy rainfall causing treacherous flooding, Jakarta also feels the impact of the rising sea levels caused by climate change more than other cities across the globe. To illustrate just how devastating the change in sea levels is to the city, studies show that sea levels are rising about a fraction of an inch a year, but Jakarta is already 40 percent underwater (National Geographic). Jakarta is also a very popular city with a high influx of residents moving into the area. The number of deep wells has grown with the number of residents pouring into Jakarta, with 400 deep groundwater wells in 1968 growing to more than 3,600 in 1998 (National Geographic).
Jakarta has been titled the world’s most rapidly sinking city, and projections show that if the community keeps falling below sea level at the rate it currently is, an estimated one-third of the city will be underwater by 2050 (NPR). The rapidly sinking city cannot sustain the amount of groundwater needed by citizens either, as consumption reached nearly 8 million cubic meters in 2018 (National Geographic). Since Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and brings in an incredible amount of revenue in tourism as well as an influx of residents moving to the city, the loss already accumulated from the damage climate change has caused will be devastating for the entire country. However, the government realizes the severity and urgency of this crisis and has put several plans in place to repair the damage that rising sea levels and flooding have already caused as well as make the city more adaptable to the water flowing in through the delta it sits on. For example, in 2020 the provincial governor’s office announced a ban on groundwater extraction by owners of buildings larger than 54,000 square feet (National Geographic). This change will take place in 2023 and in addition to this step forward that was made, Governor Anies Baswedan has stated that by 2030, the piped-water network will supply the entire city (National Geographic).
In conclusion, Jakarta is a city that is geographically disadvantaged when it comes to facing the consequences of climate change. The fact that Jakarta is a coastal city accompanied by its position on a delta is not something that can be changed or adjusted. However, the government realizing that drastic changes must be made in regards to groundwater extraction and water usage as well as giving specific timelines and marks to make sure the goal is met is a huge step in the right direction.
Irwandi, J. (2022, July 29). Indonesia’s giant capital city is sinking. Can the government’s plan save it? National Geographic.nwww.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/indonesias-giant-capital-city-is-sinking-can the-governments-plan-save-it.
NPR. (2022, January 26). Indonesia’s capital is rapidly sinking into the sea. National Public Radio. www.npr.org/2022/01/26/1075720551/jakarta-indonesia-sinking-into-java-sea-new capital.
William Martin-Farmer, Penn State University
Lagos, Nigeria is the largest city in Africa, but due to global warming, it may soon be unlivable. Most people do not think of extreme rain when it comes to Africa, but in Lagos during the rainy season, which is becoming stronger and stronger due to climate change, the amount of rainfall can be devastating. One of the largest issues that this city of 22 million people faces is eroding coastline. The years and years of sand mining combined with increased rains and rising sea levels thanks to climate change have left the coastline of Lagos in shambles. The impact of this erosion has not impacted all people of Lagos the same and has hit particularly hard on the impoverished communities who cannot afford to look elsewhere for homes or work. On the other hand, affluent communities in Lagos have been constructing new neighborhoods using land reclaimed from the ocean by creating large concrete walls around the neighborhoods. Experts are concerned that building these new neighborhoods will put more pressure on other parts of the coastline and lead to faster erosion in those areas. In the year 2020, NEMA data estimates that two million people were directly impacted by the increased flooding within the city (Princewill, 2021). To combat this flooding and eroding coastline, the city has begun looking at all of its existing infrastructure and what it can change to make the city more immune to the adverse effects of climate change. The city has begun taking trash out of the city’s waterways to help reduce flooding. Citizens say that the government hasn’t done enough and are urging the city to provide incentives for private sector companies to also adapt new ways to combat climate change. Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment has promised to research more ways to help the city fight climate change (Princewill, 2022). Overall, Lagos faces a ton of risks from climate change and the city needs to find more ways to combat these risks, or else the lives of its residents will be at risk.
Princewill, N. (2021, August 2). Africa’s Most Populous City Is Battling Floods and Rising Seas. It May Soon Be Unlivable, Experts Warn. CNN, Cable News Network. https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/01/africa/lagos-sinking-floods-climate-change-intl cmd/index.html.
Connor Ryan, Penn State University
Throughout the last several decades, climate change and global warming have become a growing concern as we put more resources into studying the effect it has on our future planet and society. Sea level rise is one of the most concerning and present issues that is directly correlated to climate change, however, not all communities are affected equally by this phenomenon. Coastal communities and communities with low elevations that are near large bodies of water have been hit particularly hard lately, and according to C40, a network of large community politicians/leaders solely focused on resolving climate, economic costs to primarily coastal cities alone “could amount to $1 trillion by mid-century”. This shows just how vulnerable these cities are and justifies why so much effort has gone into climate awareness efforts made by these community leaders. Located within China, Guangzhou, the capital of the Guangdong province with approximately 15 million inhabitants is built on top of the Pearl River Delta’s alluvial plain which experiences frequent flooding, Chinese climate experts have predicted that sea level rise will catastrophically impact this community if the rate of climate change is not drastically reduced. On top of geographical location, Urban expansion on top of natural drainage systems such as mangroves and swamps has increased the capital’s vulnerability to severe flooding. Global mean sea level is projected to rise by 2-3 feet \by 2100, however, with Guangzhou’s local coastal flood levels, a variability of 2.8 m has been added to these calculations making the projected sea level rise range from 1 meter to 6.5 meters. Thanks to Earth.org, flooding prediction maps have been developed to provide a satellite representation of the Guangdong province with a “mild” 2 meters of sea level rise to an “extreme” 5 meters, with the current prediction map showing a large percentage of the province flooded, and the capital, Guangzhou entirely flooded. This flooding will make approximately half of the Guangdong province underwater, and therefore unlivable, flooding popular tourist locations as well as destroying a large percentage of the local agriculture and ecosystem. To add to this list of predicted devastation, 54% of the population of the province will be forced to relocate, which amounts to a population of over 7 million people having to leave their homes to head northward. As it currently stands, Guangzhou can persevere and maintain its current economy, only dealing with the occasional flood, but with the predicted impact of sea level rise, investments into flood mitigation are beginning to sprout. While no official plan has been drafted by Chinese authorities yet, flood defenses such as flood barriers have been proposed in light of the latest climate models. If humanity can begin to draw back the rate of climate change, Guangzhou and many other vulnerable coastal communities’ predicted devastation due to sea level rise may be reduced or perhaps even eliminated, and millions will avoid losing their homes and personal belongings.
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