Upcoming Forecast if We’re Not Careful: Cloudy With a Chance of Flooding

Written by Laura Michelle Burns

As a biologist and a mom, I don’t take the ecosystem for granted. It’s a delicate balance, and I remind friends and family that we cannot pollute the air around us and expect to outlive the consequences. We will suffer. Our children will suffer.

In the last decade and a half, the number of heavy precipitation events have increased by 30 percent. The rising temperature on the Earth’s surface contributes to an increase in disease. As the climate on Earth changes, the atmosphere gets hotter and holds more water vapor. The increase in the water vapor leads to intense downpours that result in flooding.

If history continues in this manner, temperatures will keep rising and the number of extreme weather events will continue to put our economy, our health and our livelihood at risk.

Remember soot? Air pollution? Particulates? These tiny particles, solid or liquid, are suspended in our air. They are called aerosols and are the result of the combustion of fossil fuels, industrial or agricultural processes, and the burning of fields and forests. If you’ve read the Moms Clean Air Force blog, you understand the direct impact these aerosol particulates have on our children’s health. But here’s what you may not know: the aerosol particles can either reflect the sun’s light back into space or absorb the solar radiation. Through these interactions, we found that these minute particles impact chemical interactions within the cloud formations that actually have a hand in the intensity of our rains.

Clean Air Clouds vs. Polluted Air Clouds

In cleaner air, clouds form rain droplets that collide and form larger droplets before they precipitate. In polluted air, the droplets are too small so they are not released immediately. As the rain builds up in the clouds, it freezes and can cause ice or hail. As these clouds are freezing, energy also builds up within the height of the cloud that releases the torrential rains. In areas where the air is heavily polluted, rain clouds don’t build up enough rain, potentially causing droughts. Once drought season is relieved, it is often followed by heavy rains and subsequent flooding.

Flood Risks

There are the obvious risks — drowning, loss of property and property damage. What we often forget is that while floodwaters may have receded, the air can still be unclear.

When it comes to rebuilding after a flood, there are three major categories of risk that need to be taken into consideration:

  • Safety while driving: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) addresses this in their campaign, Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
  • The remaining water: Municipal drinking water plants, wells and sewers can be overwhelmed during extreme downpours. This can result in raw sewage backing up into people’s homes, and street contaminants (gasoline, motor oil, etc.), pesticides and refuse flowing into local water sources.
  • Mold: Anywhere water has seeped into a building and then remained stagnant, even for a short period of time, toxic mold builds up, which can cause health hazards. During intense rain events, ceilings, flooring, walls and insulation provide the perfect environment for mold to grow in.

LEARN MORE: READ AND SHARE, OUR NEW FREE EBOOK ON GLOBAL WARMING AND EXTREME WEATHER

TELL EPA YOU SUPPORT LIMITS ON CARBON POLLUTION FROM POWER PLANTS

 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

72 comments

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago

Azaima,
With any luck they will discontinue flood insurance, encouraging those living in flood plains to seek drier ground.

Azaima A.
Azaima A.2 years ago

wish the decision makers made constructive use of this

Lynn C.
Lynn C.2 years ago

We've only just begun...

Linda Kristensen
Linda K.2 years ago

Fi T. Fi T.
3:39AM PDT on Oct 14, 2013

Fi T. Fi T.
3:39AM PDT on Oct 14, 2013

"The human is suffering from what they've been doing"

If if were only the humans, it would only be justice. But what about all other life and the whole eco of the planet? We take everything with us.





Natasha Salgado

Welcome to the future of disasters...it will be getting worse with each year. Thanks

Brian M.
Past Member 2 years ago

Many of the worst impacts of climate change can no longer be avoided, but if we are to survive at all...then we need to take radical action now transition from dirty energy to clean renewable energy.

A F.
A F.2 years ago

Thank you for the info

John Wesen
Past Member 2 years ago

In America. Once again, care2 ignores it's non US members.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thanks.