JUL 14, 2021 2:49 PM PDT

High-Tide Flooding is Cause for Concern in the US

WRITTEN BY: Sarah Hoffman

High-tide flooding (HTF) is a phenomenon that typically occurs in coastal regions during the highest astronomical tides of the year, however a new study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that the frequency and intensity of these floods will rapidly increase in the US by the mid-2030s with several areas experiencing seasonal clustering events.

Generally subtle when compared to the damage caused by storm-driven events, HTF often increase slowly in severity over long periods of time causing repetitive damage to infrastructure and businesses. Phil Thompson, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii, stresses that it is “the accumulated effect over time that will have an impact.” He notes that while the intensity of HTFs do not seem as dangerous as a storm-event, “if it floods 10 or 15 times a month, a business can’t keep operating with its parking lot under water. People lose their jobs because they can’t get to work. [And] Seeping cesspools become a public health issue.”

HTFs typically increase in severity slowly depending on several factors including sea-level rise (SLR) and astronomical positioning. Inflections, or “tipping-points” are moments in time when these normally gradual increases take a sudden leap forward in intensity. These inflections can cause sudden and unexpected impacts within coastal communities who are unprepared for such a high tide. To identify these inflection points, researchers gauged 89 tidal locations in US and US-affiliated Pacific and Caribbean islands (except Alaska).

An algorithm calculated by researchers at the University of Hawaii and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts years when inflections are likely to take place (YOI) and what effect they may have on various coastal communities after those YOI.  For example, in St. Petersburg, FL, the number of HTF events that occur will increase from 13 to 80 days per year in the decade following a YOI.

By calculating the years that inflections are likely to take place in different locations, researchers, community planners, and public health entities can begin to prepare for potential rapid increased in HTF in the coming years. This predictive science will become increasingly important as the study predicts that locations along the Atlantic coast will begin to experience “modest inflections” of HTF in the mid-2020s while locations along the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico undergo more rapid increases in HTF frequency by the mid-2030s.

Sources: Nature Climate Change & NASA

About the Author
Ph.D. Anthropology
Sarah (She/Her) is the Scientific Editor at Labroots. She has a background in science publishing, bioarchaeology & paleopathology, and has worked at archaeological sites throughout the North Atlantic. She received her Ph.D. & M.A. from the University at Buffalo and her MSc. from Durham University.
You May Also Like
FEB 08, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Inequality of Flood Risk
FEB 08, 2022
Inequality of Flood Risk
Flooding has long impacted poor communities more than wealthy communities, and a new study shows how much worse it will ...
MAR 09, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Changing Our Reliance on Fossil Fuels Amid Global Tensions
MAR 09, 2022
Changing Our Reliance on Fossil Fuels Amid Global Tensions
Oil companies are under fire for continuing to purchase and deliver Russian oil, funding Putin’s war. Governments ...
MAR 13, 2022
Technology
An Infinitely Recyclable Plastic
MAR 13, 2022
An Infinitely Recyclable Plastic
Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues we face. The chief problem with many plastics is that ...
APR 18, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Neptune - The Distant Planet
APR 18, 2022
Neptune - The Distant Planet
Neptune, the eighth planet from the Sun – The Distant Planet. This bright blue orb hanging out near the edge of th ...
MAY 11, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Experience a Total Lunar Eclipse Over the Evening of Sunday, May 15th
MAY 11, 2022
Experience a Total Lunar Eclipse Over the Evening of Sunday, May 15th
For the first time in almost a full year, residents of Earth will be able to observe a total lunar eclipse – a per ...
MAY 18, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Landslides can have a major impact on glacier melt and movement
MAY 18, 2022
Landslides can have a major impact on glacier melt and movement
When we think of glaciers, horrifying images of them receding into the water because of climate change immediately come ...
Loading Comments...