From: USGS
Published August 14, 2017 01:48 PM

Study Links Major Floods in North America and Europe to Multi-Decade Ocean Patterns

The number of major floods in natural rivers across Europe and North America has not increased overall during the past 80 years, a recent study has concluded. Instead researchers found that the occurrence of major flooding in North America and Europe often varies with North Atlantic Ocean temperature patterns.

This new study is by far the largest scale analysis of major flood trends for watersheds that are minimally disturbed by human activities. It provides vital information to help understand the most common and widespread of all natural hazards on Earth—a hazard that causes substantial losses of life and property.

“This study is unique in that it examined trends in major floods only—those with 25-year or longer return periods—that typically cause the most damage to infrastructure,” said USGS research hydrologist Glenn Hodgkins, who led an international team of scientists in the study. “We examined historical streamflow data from more than 1200 diverse but minimally altered watersheds across two continents.”

"We are fortunate that agencies in many countries had the foresight to establish reference hydrologic networks that provide the high quality long term streamflow records that make this type of study possible,” said co-author Paul Whitfield of the University of Saskatchewan.


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