• Baker, V. R., 1998: Hydrological understanding and societal action. J. Amer. Water Res. Assoc.,34, 819–825.

  • Chandler, T. J., R. U. Cooke, and I. Douglas, 1976: Physical problems of the urban environment. Geogr. J.,142, 57–80.

  • Changnon, S. A., 1980: Removing the confusion over droughts and floods: The interface between scientists and policy makers. Water Int.,5, 10–18.

  • ——, Ed., 1996: The Great Flood of 1993: Causes, Impacts, and Responses. Westview Press, 332 pp.

  • ——, 1998: Comments on “Secular trends of precipitation amount, frequency, and intensity in the United States.” Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,79, 2550–2552.

  • ——, and M. Demissie, 1996: Detection of changes in streamflow and floods resulting from climate fluctuations and land use-drainage changes. Climatic Change,32, 411–421.

  • Coyle, K., 1993: River tinkering worsened flooding. USA Today, 14 July, p. 13A.

  • FEMA, 1997: Multi-Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment: The Cornerstone of the National Mitigation Strategy. Federal Emergency Management Agency, 369 pp.

  • Garcia, P., S. A. Changnon, and M. Pinar, 1990: Economic effects of precipitation enhancement in the Corn Belt. J. Appl. Meteor.,29, 63–75.

  • Hamburger, T., 1997: Floods renew interest in climate changes: Is global warming causing more precipitation? Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 29 April, p. 13A.

  • Holliday, W. C., J. L. Floyd, and P. T. Chao, 1998: Policy study on impediments to evaluation and development of non-structural flood damage reduction measures. Report from Institute for Water Resources to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 84 pp. [Available from U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Resources Support Center, Institute for Water Resources, Casey Building, Alexandria, VA 22301.].

  • Hoyt, W., and W. B. Langbein, 1955: Floods. Princeton University Press, 469 pp.

  • IFMRC, 1994: A blueprint for change—Sharing the challenge: Floodplain management into the 21st century. Report of the Interagency Floodplain Management Review Committee to the Administration Floodplain Management Task Force, 191 pp.

  • IFRCRCS, 1997: World Disasters Report 1997. Oxford University Press, 173 pp.

  • IPCC, 1996a: Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, 572 pp.

  • ——, 1996b: Climate Change 1995: Economic and Social Dimensions of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, 448 pp.

  • Karl, T. R., and R. W. Knight, 1998: Secular trend of precipitation amount, frequency, and intensity in the United States. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,79, 231–242.

  • ——, ——, D. R. Easterling, and R. G. Quayle, 1995: Trends in U.S. climate during the twentieth century. Consequences,1, 3–12.

  • ——, ——, D. R. Easterling, and R. G. Quayle, 1996: Indices of climate change for the United States. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,77, 279–292.

  • Kerwin, K., and J. B. Verrengia, 1997: Rare storm loosed Fort Collins flood: Hazard experts say deluge should serve as “wake-up call” for growing population. Rocky Mountain News, 3 August, p. 48A.

  • Kunkel, K. E., S. A. Changnon, and R. T. Shealy, 1993: Temporal and spatial characteristics of heavy-precipitation events in the Midwest. Mon. Wea. Rev.,121, 858–866.

  • ——, R. A. Pielke Jr., and S. A. Changnon, 1999: Temporal fluctuations in weather and climate extremes that cause economic and human health impacts: A review. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,80, 1077–1098.

  • Labaton, S., 1993: U.S. is considering a “revolution” in flood control. New York Times, 28 August, p. 6.

  • Lins, H. F., and J. R. Slack, 1999: Streamflow trends in the United States. Geophys. Res. Lett.,26, 227–230.

  • Moser, D. A., 1994: Assessment of the economic effects of flooding. Coping with Floods, G. Rossi, H. Harmancioglu, and V. Yevjevich, Eds., Kluwer Academic, 515–528.

  • NOAA, 1997: As global climate warms, more floods are expected. Press release 97-3, 2 pp.

  • OTA, 1993: Preparing for an Uncertain Climate. Vol. 1. U.S. Government Printing Office, 359 pp.

  • Pielke, R. A., Jr., 1996: Midwest Flood of 1993: Weather, Climate, and Societal Impacts. ESIG/NCAR, 159 pp.

  • ——, 1998: Rethinking the role of adaption in climate policy. Global Environ. Change,8, 159–170.

  • ——, 1999: Nine fallacies of floods. Climatic Change,42, 413–438.

  • ——, 2000: Flood impacts on society: Damaging floods as a framework for assessment. Flood Hazards and Disasters, D. J. Parker, Ed., Routledge, in press.

  • ——, and C. W. Landsea, 1998: Normalized hurricane damages in the United States: 1925–95. Wea. Forecasting,13, 621–631.

  • ——, and M. W. Downton, 1999: U.S. trends in streamflow and precipitation: Using societal impact data to resolve an apparent paradox. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,80, 1435–1436.

  • Rayner, S., and E. L. Malone, Eds., 1998: Human Choice and Climate Change. Vol. 1. Batelle Press, 490 pp.

  • ——, and ——, Eds., 1998: Human Choice and Climate Change. Vol. 2. Batelle Press, 451 pp.

  • ——, and ——, Eds., 1998: Human Choice and Climate Change. Vol. 3. Batelle Press, 429 pp.

  • ——, and ——, Eds., 1998: Human Choice and Climate Change. Vol. 4. Batelle Press, 193 pp.

  • Renshaw, E. F., 1957: Toward Responsible Government: An Economic Appraisal of Federal Investment in Water Resources Programs. Idyia Press, 164 pp.

  • Smith, D. I., 1993: Greenhouse climatic change and flood damages, the implications. Climatic Change,25, 319–333.

  • Stevens, W. K., 1997: Experts on climate change ponder: How urgent is it? New York Times, 9 September, p. C1.

  • Trenberth, K. E., 1997: Global warming: It’s happening. NaturalSCIENCE,I. [Available online from http://www.naturalscience.com/ns/articles/01–09/ns_ket.html.].

  • ——, 1998: Atmospheric moisture residence times and cycling: Implications for rainfall rates and climate change. Climatic Change,39, 667–694.

  • ——, 1999: Conceptual framework for changes of extremes of the hydrologic cycle with climate change. Climatic Change,42, 327–339.

  • University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center, 1992: Floodplain Management in the United States: An Assessment Report. Vol. 2, Full Report, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 609 pp.

  • Ward, R. C., and M. Robinson, 1990: Principles of Hydrology. Whitstable Litho Ltd., 365 pp.

  • Wiener, J. D., 1996: Research opportunities in search of federal flood policy. Policy Sci.,29, 321–344.

  • White, G. F., W. C. Calef, J. W. Hudson, H. M. Mayer, J. R. Sheaffer, and D. J. Volk, 1958: Changes in Urban Occupance of Flood Plains in the United States. University of Chicago Press, 235 pp.

  • Witt, J. L., 1998: National Press Club Luncheon Speech, 10 November 1998. [Available online at http://www.fema.gov/library/wittspch11.htm.].

  • Yen, C., and B. Yen, 1996: A study on the effectiveness of flood mitigation measures. Proc. First Int. Conf. on New/Emerging Concepts for Rivers, Rivertech 96. Vol. 2, Urbana, IL, International Water Resources Association, 555–562.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 965 965 112
PDF Downloads 494 494 60

Precipitation and Damaging Floods: Trends in the United States, 1932–97

View More View Less
  • 1 Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado*
© Get Permissions Rent on DeepDyve
Restricted access

Abstract

The poor relationship between what climatologists, hydrologists, and other physical scientists call floods, and those floods that actually cause damage to life or property, has limited what can be reliably said about the causes of observed trends in damaging floods. It further limits what can be said about future impacts of floods on society based on predicted changes in the global hydrological cycle. This paper presents a conceptual framework for the systematic assessment of the factors that condition observed trends in flood damage. Using the framework, it assesses the role that variability in precipitation has in damaging flooding in the United States at national and regional levels. Three different measures of flood damage—absolute, per capita, and per unit wealth—each lead to different conclusions about the nature of the flood problem. At a national level, of the 10 precipitation measures examined in this study, the ones most closely related to flood damage are the number of 2-day heavy rainfall events and the number of wet days. Heavy rainfall events are defined relative to a measure of average rainfall in each area, not as absolute thresholds. The study indicates that the growth in recent decades in total damage is related to both climate factors and societal factors: increased damage is associated with increased precipitation and with increasing population and wealth. At the regional level, this study reports a stronger relationship between precipitation measures and flood damage, and indicates that different measures of precipitation are most closely related to damage in different regions. This study suggests that climate plays an important, but by no means determining, role in the growth in damaging floods in the United States in recent decades.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Roger A. Pielke Jr., Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, NCAR, 3450 Mitchell Lane, Boulder, CO 80301.

Email: rogerp@ucar.edu

Abstract

The poor relationship between what climatologists, hydrologists, and other physical scientists call floods, and those floods that actually cause damage to life or property, has limited what can be reliably said about the causes of observed trends in damaging floods. It further limits what can be said about future impacts of floods on society based on predicted changes in the global hydrological cycle. This paper presents a conceptual framework for the systematic assessment of the factors that condition observed trends in flood damage. Using the framework, it assesses the role that variability in precipitation has in damaging flooding in the United States at national and regional levels. Three different measures of flood damage—absolute, per capita, and per unit wealth—each lead to different conclusions about the nature of the flood problem. At a national level, of the 10 precipitation measures examined in this study, the ones most closely related to flood damage are the number of 2-day heavy rainfall events and the number of wet days. Heavy rainfall events are defined relative to a measure of average rainfall in each area, not as absolute thresholds. The study indicates that the growth in recent decades in total damage is related to both climate factors and societal factors: increased damage is associated with increased precipitation and with increasing population and wealth. At the regional level, this study reports a stronger relationship between precipitation measures and flood damage, and indicates that different measures of precipitation are most closely related to damage in different regions. This study suggests that climate plays an important, but by no means determining, role in the growth in damaging floods in the United States in recent decades.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Roger A. Pielke Jr., Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, NCAR, 3450 Mitchell Lane, Boulder, CO 80301.

Email: rogerp@ucar.edu

Save