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Modeling Study Based on Hurricane Harvey Improves Flooding Predictions with Climate Change


The exacerbated effects of hurricane induced flooding due to climate change are not fully understood in relation to coastal areas and sea level rise. A new study, partially funded by the Climate Program Office’s Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP) Program, applies a new modeling approach to evaluate watershed flooding using 2017 Hurricane Harvey as a case study. Researchers from Texas A&M University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Zaragoza, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory demonstrate that rainfall in the southern Houston area would increase by about 16% for each degree of warming over the Gulf of Mexico. The results, published in the Journal of Hydrology, show the area of land experiencing flooding will increase by about 20% by the 2090’s and floods will be deeper and longer lasting. This modeling framework can be applied to other coastal watersheds to investigate hazards of precipitation and flooding associated with extreme climate events and warming. This project advances CVP efforts to improve predictions of air-sea interactions on decadal timescales.

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