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Researchers find floods one image at a time with new monitoring network

Flooding costs billions of dollars in damage annually in the U.S. alone, but finding reliable ways to determine when flooding occurs, predicting the intensity of that flooding, and communicating warnings to the public remains a challenge. Researchers at Northern Arizona University (NAU; Flagstaff) have launched an ambitious project aimed at making floods easier to track. […]

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Chesapeake Bay grasses unfazed after record-breaking precipitation

In 2017, the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP; Annapolis, Md.) recorded 42,448 ha (104,893 ac) of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, marking the first year the bay’s SAV surpassed 100,000 acres since CBP began conducting annual surveys in 1984. Results from CBP’s 2018 investigation, published in July, suggest that Chesapeake […]

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USGS estimates impervious parking lot coverage for all 3,109 U.S. counties

According to automotive industry analysts with Hedges & Co. (Hudson, Ohio), there were more than 275 million registered motor vehicles in the U.S. in 2018. Accommodating that number of vehicles requires an enormous network of parking lots, the vast majority of which are made of impervious pavement that rainwater cannot infiltrate. Until now, researchers have […]

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New flood model: Slight increases in rainfall can create major traffic disruptions

Many of the modeling tools that public works agencies, disaster response organizations, and watershed managers use to predict the effects of flooding from major storms do not consider a detail that makes a major difference, according to new research: land elevation. A study published in May in the journal Nature Communications describes a new flood-modeling […]

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Report suggests revamped guidelines for U.S. EPA industrial stormwater permit

More than 2000 industrial facilities nationwide are subject to stormwater monitoring and control requirements under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). Ahead of an update to the permitting program expected in 2020, EPA enlisted researchers from the National Academies for Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to highlight weak points in the existing […]

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Climate change and development have intensified flash floods around the world

While average temperatures gradually warm in most parts of the world, resulting in increasingly frequent and intense rainstorms, human expansion and development continue to disrupt the natural landscape’s ability to manage stormwater runoff. According to the first global analysis of how these trends already have affected rates of both precipitation and runoff generation, existing climate […]

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‘How high is your river?’ asks CrowdHydrology citizen science project

In 2010, a smartphone-based campaign that called on motorists to report roadkill sightings in California via text message inspired University of Buffalo (UB; N.Y.) hydrogeologist Chris Lowry to undertake an experiment. If it didn’t require any prior knowledge or specialized equipment besides the small computers we carry in our pockets, could ordinary people help gather […]

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Digital stormwater management puts valuable information in the cloud

Starting in early 2017, citizens curious about how Chicago’s bioswales and porous asphalt handled storms could log on and watch real-time data upload to their screens. Though the portal is no longer being updated, the test project it represented was a success. This May, the City Tech Collaborative, based at the UI LABS nonprofit research […]

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First-ever NMSA State of Stormwater report highlights common challenges for U.S. MS4 permittees

The National Municipal Stormwater Alliance (NMSA; Alexandria, Va.), a group of municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permittees from around the U.S., released its first annual state-by-state review of MS4 program updates, challenges, and needs on Aug. 13. The 2018 NMSA State of Stormwater report analyzes the effectiveness of MS4 programs in 14 states and […]

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Storms as destructive as Hurricane Harvey projected to happen more frequently

When Hurricane Harvey inundated eastern Texas late last August, the eye of the storm loitered over land for nearly a week rather than dispersing as it moved farther from the ocean, as most hurricanes do. The result was a stronger, more destructive storm, which dropped a record-breaking 127 cm (50 in.) of rain and directly […]

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