Penn State study: Pa. flood risk rising with climate change | Wednesday Morning Coffee
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The wildfires tracing a path of death and destruction in the American West mark the first natural disaster of the New Year. And the same changes in climate that turned Colorado into a tinderbox are laying the groundwork for future disasters in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania is in line for more extreme rainfall and flooding by 2050, according to a recent assessment by researchers at Penn State University.
The paper, published in the Journal of Hydrometeorology, reached its conclusions by combining historical flood information with climate models to estimate future risk, according to the environmental news site, StateImpact Pennsylvania, which first reported its findings.
“Our projections suggest that flood hazards and exposure across Pennsylvania are overall increasing with future climate change,” the report’s authors wrote. “Specific regions, including the main stem Susquehanna River, lower portion of the Allegheny basin, and central portion of Delaware River basin, demonstrate higher flood inundation risks. In our analysis, the climate uncertainty dominates the overall uncertainty surrounding the flood inundation projection chain.”
The Marshall Fire in Boulder County, Colorado (Image via Colorado Newsline).
According to StateImpact Pennsylvania, the top three cities with the highest projected flood hazards were Lock Haven, Williamsport, and Sunbury, all situated along the west branch of the Susquehanna River. All have a history of flooding.
The study also found that Warren, Bradford, Wilkes-Barre, Johnstown, York, and Connellsville, in Fayette County, also face some of the highest flooding risks, StateImpact Pennsylvania reported.
“Places that…today have the highest risks of flooding, those same places seem to be the ones that are at most risk 50, 100 years from now,” Alfonso Mejia, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and one of the paper’s authors, told StateImpact Pennsylvania.
Cover of the Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment 2021 (Capital-Star screen capture).
In May, officials across several state agencies called for a “multi-dimensional” approach to fighting climate change, the Capital-Star’s Cassie Miller and Stephen Caruso reported at the time.
In a 143-page report that’s released every three years, officials at the state Department of Environmental Protection noted six expected changes by mid-century when compared to a 1971-2000 baseline.
- The average annual temperature statewide will continue to rise, and is expected to increase by 5.9°F (3.3°C) compared to the baseline.
- There will be more frequent and intense extreme heat events. For example, temperatures are expected to reach at least 90°F on 37 days per year on average across the state, up from the 5 days during the baseline period. Days reaching temperatures above 95°F and 100°F will become more frequent as well.
- Increasing temperatures will continue to alter the growing season and increase the number of days that people need to cool their homes and workspaces, but will also decrease the number of days that people will need to use heating.
- Pennsylvania could experience more total average rainfall, occurring in less frequent but heavier rain events. Extreme rainfall events are projected to increase in magnitude, frequency, and intensity. Drought conditions are also expected to occur more frequently due to more extreme, but less frequent precipitation patterns.
- Tidally influenced flooding is expected to increase in the Delaware Estuary coastal zone.
- Lake Erie is also expected to undergo significant changes in water level, coastal erosion, and water temperature. Notably, Lake Erie experienced record high water levels in 2019
“No one can expect Pennsylvanians’ lives to stay as they are now,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said at the time.
Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)
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WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A pro-Trump mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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What Goes On
The desk is clear. Enjoy the silence.
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Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
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And now you’re up to date.
Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by John L. Micek