Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Record Snowfalls Causing High Waters In Great Plains, Says Geography Expert

08.07.2011
Summers on the Great Plains are usually characterized by a lack of water. But flooding in several states has reversed that trend -- and it might not be the last of the high waters for 2011, according to a Kansas State University geography expert.

Richard Marston, university distinguished professor and head of the department of geography, said that some mountainous states still have 200 percent of normal snowfall for this season. Spring rains have also kept the ground moist, causing subsequent runoff. This has contributed to flooding in North Dakota and along the Missouri River. More flooding also is likely along the front range of the Rocky Mountains, Marston said.

"As temperatures warm up, especially when you get warm rain on top of snow, you get a lot of runoff and melting," Marston said. "This also causes flooding in non-mountainous areas."

The Souris River, which has engulfed Minot, N.D., is similar to many other rivers in the Great Plains, Marston said. The river has a low slope that slows the speed of water. This allows for an influx of water to continually accumulate.

Flood controls and related decisions have also exacerbated the extent of damage, particularly in North Dakota. Levees are traditionally accepted as an effective method of flood control and have been implemented on a wide scale. Attempting to control rivers through building levees has eliminated adjacent wetlands, the traditional spot for water storage during floods. It's a common issue that has had negative effects on flood control, according to Marston.

"Back in the early 1900s, the total damages for flooding in the entire country were $100,000 per year," he said. "Now it's in the billions per-year average."

Another contributing factor has been development in floodplains. Covering a natural soil surface with concrete and asphalt, combined with the same weather events, creates more runoff, Marston said. Many areas, including some in Manhattan, need to redo floodplain mapping to add at-risk areas.

The flooding has forced a series of tough decisions for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency responsible for public works projects. In May floodwaters on the Mississippi River threatened the city of New Orleans. To relieve the burden on the levees around the low elevation city, the corps chose to blast a levy in rural Missouri that destroyed a small town and agricultural land. The Corps of Engineers used their system as it was designed, Marston said.

"It's a complex situation like with most human impacts on rivers," Marston said. "When we start mucking around with the connection between the river and its floodplain, things might look rosy for a period of time, but eventually you will have to pay the piper."

The flooding in North Dakota and along the Missouri River has been described by a variety of sources in the context of 100 to 500-year floods. A 100-year flood is commonly perceived as being an area that is flooded once every 100 years, Marston said. Instead, a 100-year flood means there is a 1 percent chance an area could be flooded yearly. This can cause big decisions in terms of development or future residency for areas in flood plains.

"It depends on what kind of gambler you are," Marston said. "Many times the losses from these floods are complete and devastating."

Fixing the myriad flood-related issues will involve a total effort, according to Marston. Shifting a focus from developing in floodplains and changing methods of flood controls are primary focuses, he said. Land-use planning provides an alternative to levees and dams.

"I tend to favor nonstructural approaches to flood management," Marston said. "The history of dams and levees is clear in our country. They have prevented damage from floods, but what happens when the big one occurs? The damage can be worse than it would have been without the levees."

Richard Marston, 785-532-6727, rmarston@k-state.edu

Richard Marston | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.k-state.edu

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>