New research aims to monitor flooding – Yahoo News


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AccuWeather's Adam Del Rosso interviewed Dr. Paul Gayes, Director of the Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, on aiming to monitor flooding.Video TranscriptADAM DEL ROSSO: Dr. Paul Gayes, Director of Coastal Carolina University's Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, is with us this evening. Thank you so much for being here.PAUL GAYES: My pleasure.ADAM DEL ROSSO: So you've helped develop a new program with the goal of addressing flooding along the South Carolina coast. Can you tell us more about the program and what you're aiming to do?PAUL GAYES: Sure. It's really part of an overall effort we've had here in our partners at Florida Atlantic University to increase the observation capacities in the coastal zone, both water level, water quality, the forces that are affecting our environment on a higher spatial resolution so that we can improve modeling and forecasting on the scale that society needs. So to do that, we need a much tighter control on the observations to validate and assimilate into the model systems. So this particular application is towards water level and flooding.ADAM DEL ROSSO: So what drives a lot of the flooding there? Is it a common issue?PAUL GAYES: It's a real challenge here in the coastal zone of South Carolina, like many other states, particularly since when you get closer and closer to the coast, it's not just the waters coming downhill from the drainage basin. It's waters from the ocean. It's the waters from your local rainfall. And here, groundwater is very important, how saturated our soils are. So these coastal areas are really getting it from all sides in many regards.And so it becomes increasingly important to really try to figure out what the ocean is doing is as it comes up. Even on a given day, you'll hear on the news in our area and probably many areas along the coast there will be flooding in the usual areas at the time of high tide. That's largely because that ocean is a little higher and it's blocking the drainage, frankly. And lots of things will make that water level rise. There's long-term sea level rise. There's tidal effort forces. And even just the winds and the waves will set up and adjust these water levels. So depending on how they coincide or the time relative to rain events, we get very different outcomes. So we're trying to really resolve that much better in the coastal zone.ADAM DEL ROSSO: You mentioned when we were talking earlier that over time the nature of the flooding has changed. What is driving that change? And what are some of those changes?PAUL GAYES: Well, I think what you're seeing is there's a lot of change, right. So the things that are affecting this is the base level in the ocean. That's changing. It's been rising. And so the overall effect of that blocking capacity is being increased. The other things that are happening is the nature of the storms does seem to be changing. I mean, we're seeing in the last 10 years much slower moving, much higher rainfall concentrations. These atmospheric streams and rivers, as they're referred to, are really putting a lot of pressure and a lot of water into the coastal areas in very short order.This area is one of the larger drainage basins in the East Coast. The Pee Dee Basin is a rather large one. So when these events are slow-moving and sit over this basin for a long time, it pumps a lot of water. And it's got to come through the coastal area to the ocean. So that nature of changing in the storms has been definitely a contributor. And the other thing that, quite frankly, is a big play in this is many of these coastal areas such as is here and all around the country, these are heavily populated areas. They're also very rapidly growing. You're still seeing a large migration of people to the coastal areas, lots of development and infrastructure that comes with that. And that's alterating, changing the landscape and changing the nature of the drainage patterns and the rates at which water's moving. So it's a very complicated process that's evolving in the coastal zone of the country.ADAM DEL ROSSO: And I think what you're touching on there-- I mean, these are hurricane models, too, that this information will kind of go into, right?PAUL GAYES: Right. We've worked here for some time and have a very capable, fully interactively coupled ocean, atmosphere, wave, and now flood model. So the [? motion ?] effects as it affects the flooding is in now the model system, which is often not been the case where flooding has been dealt in from the land side and surge has been dealt in from the ocean side and trying to bridge those.So we've had good success here. Shaowu Bao is on the faculty and has really done the coding such that kind of interaction between the ocean, atmosphere, and land system is much more appropriately or accurately represented in the behavior of the model. So as a result, we're seeing better results of the model. We're seeing longer times out where the tracks and intensities are better and the flood results are coming out better with what we actually see. And now we're just trying to get that resolution down to a higher granularity on the coast and really get down maybe to a property scale rather than a community scale type of effort.ADAM DEL ROSSO: And a more accurate forecast is always beneficial. We want to help people out the best we can with the most accurate information. And so thank you for your work gathering that information and trying to get us out of these flooding issues that seem to be occurring more and more frequently.PAUL GAYES: It is a great challenge. And the hope is to get the best information we can and get it into the public discussion. There's a lot of sides to the problem. There's the climate issue. There's the management of the landscape issue. There's all sorts of concerns economically and environmentally. These are not challenges that are going to go away. And we need the best information and the best decisions we can get.ADAM DEL ROSSO: Dr. Gayes, thank you so much.PAUL GAYES: My pleasure.
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