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

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle
22.06.2018 | Technical University of Denmark

nachricht Polar ice may be softer than we thought
22.06.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany

25.06.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>