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Estimates of present and future flood risk in the conterminous United States


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Title Estimates of present and future flood risk in the conterminous United States
Title of Series Environmental Research Letters, Volume 13, 2018
Author Wing, Oliver E. J.
Bates, Paul D.
Smith, Andrew M.
Sampson, Christopher C.
Johnson, Kris A.
Fargione, Joseph
Morefield, Philip
License CC Attribution 3.0 Unported:
You are free to use, adapt and copy, distribute and transmit the work or content in adapted or unchanged form for any legal purpose as long as the work is attributed to the author in the manner specified by the author or licensor.
DOI 10.5446/39355
Publisher Institute of Physics (IOP)
Release Date 2018
Language English

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Subject Area Physics
Abstract Past attempts to estimate rainfall-driven flood risk across the US either have incomplete coverage, coarse resolution or use overly simplified models of the flooding process. In this paper, we use a new 30 m resolution model of the entire conterminous US with a 2D representation of flood physics to produce estimates of flood hazard, which match to within 90% accuracy the skill of local models built with detailed data. These flood depths are combined with exposure datasets of commensurate resolution to calculate current and future flood risk. Our data show that the total US population exposed to serious flooding is 2.6–3.1 times higher than previous estimates, and that nearly 41 million Americans live within the 1% annual exceedance probability floodplain (compared to only 13 million when calculated using FEMA flood maps). We find that population and GDP growth alone are expected to lead to significant future increases in exposure, and this change may be exacerbated in the future by climate change.

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