A disaster 'larger than any in world history' is coming for California. It's not an earthquake.




"Megadrought" may be the main weather concern across the West right now amid the constant threat of wildfires and earthquakes. But a new study warns another crisis is looming in California: "Megafloods."

Climate change is increasing the risk of future floods that could submerge multiple cities and displace millions of people across California, according to a new study released Friday.

It says that an extreme month-long storm could bring feet of rain - in some places, more than 100 inches - to hundreds of miles of California. Similarly unrelenting storms have happened in the past, before the region became home to tens-of-millions of people.

Now, each degree of global warming is dramatically upping the odds and size of the next megaflood, the study says.

CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS: Weather hazards linked to nearly 60% of human diseases

HEAT: Climate change and severe weather have made urban heat islands worse

In a future scenario, where the flood comes in a hotter earth, "the storm sequence is bigger in almost every respect," said Daniel Swain, UCLA climate scientist and co-author of the study, in a news release. "There's more rain overall, more intense rainfall on an hourly basis and stronger wind."

This Thursday, Feb.
This Thursday, Feb.  

Climate change a factor in megafloods

In fact, the study found that climate change makes such catastrophic flooding twice as likely to occur.

Swain said that such massive statewide floods have occurred every century or two in California over the past millennia, and the current risk of such events has been substantially underestimated.

Long before climate change, California's Great Flood of 1862 stretched up to 300 miles long and 60 miles across. According to the study, a similar flood now would displace 5-10 million people, cut off the state's major freeways for perhaps weeks or months with massive economic effects, and submerge major Central Valley cities as well as parts of Los Angeles.

The study expands upon the 2010 "ArkStorm scenario," which is named after the atmospheric rivers that would fuel the flood - one of biblical proportions." This is the first part of a plan to revisit to that scenario, known as ArkStorm 2.0.

Massive California flood would be a $1 trillion disaster

It is estimated that that such a flood today would be a $1 trillion disaster, according to UCLA.

"Stockton, Fresno and Los Angeles would be under water even with today's extensive collection of reservoirs, levees and bypasses. It is estimated that it would be a $1 trillion disaster, larger than any in world history," according to the statement.

With drought and wildfire getting so much attention, Californians may have lost sight of extreme flooding, Swain said in the release. "There is potential for bad wildfires every year in California, but a lot of years go by when there's no major flood news. People forget about it," he said.

The researchers used new high-resolution weather models and existing climate models to compare two extreme scenarios, according to UCLA: one that would occur about once per century in the recent historical climate and another in the projected climate of 2081-2100.

Both would involve a long series of storms fueled by atmospheric rivers over the course of a month.

What are atmospheric rivers?

Atmospheric rivers are ribbons of water vapor that extend thousands of miles from the tropics to the western U.S. At 250 to 375 miles wide, they provide the fuel for the massive rain and snowstorms that can cause flooding along the West Coast.

Though beneficial for water supplies, such events can wreak havoc on travel, bring deadly mudslides and cause catastrophic damage to life and property, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Studies show that climate change will make atmospheric rivers warmer, more intense and more frequent.

Friday's study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Megafloods' could devastate California, new study says

COMMENTS

More Related News

Study finds that climate change added 10% to Ian
Study finds that climate change added 10% to Ian's rainfall
  • World
  • 2022-09-30 00:45:30Z

Climate change added at least 10% more rain to Hurricane Ian, a study prepared immediately after the storm shows. Thursday's research, which is not peer...

Oregon to cover health-related climate expenses
Oregon to cover health-related climate expenses
  • US
  • 2022-09-29 20:46:15Z

Oregon is set to become the first state in the nation to cover climate change expenses for certain low-income patients under its Medicaid program as the...

Baltic Sea pipeline leak damages marine life and climate
Baltic Sea pipeline leak damages marine life and climate
  • US
  • 2022-09-29 20:19:02Z

Methane escaping from the damaged Nord Stream pipelines that run between Russia and Europe is likely to result in the biggest known gas leak to take place...

Discovery of
Discovery of 'fingerprint' confirms alarming predictions of Greenland ice sheet melt

Scientists now have unambiguous proof that a phenomenon critical to predicting the impact of climate change exists.

Bill Gates says he hasn
Bill Gates says he hasn't given up his fortune to fight climate change because 'innovation is not just a check-writing process'

Having a "few rich individuals buy their way out so they can say they're not part of the problem" will not solve climate change, Gates said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America