Flooding

Three climate change consequences lead to flooding: rising sea levels, quicker-melting snow and glaciers, and more intense rain showers. The IPCC expects that the rising sea levels and harsher rainstorms will increase the number of floods in many places, including both flash floods (floods that happen very suddenly, often because of heavy rainfall and/or the ground is so dry it can't quickly absorb the rain) and large-scale floods (floods that stick around for a while, caused either by prolonged rainfall or water that can't drain away easily).

It is quite typical of climate change scenarios to predict that average annual precipitation will remain nearly constant, but that areas will experience long periods of drought followed by an enormous volume of rain. A good example of this occurred in Mozambique when a persistent drought lasting months immediately preceded the torrential rains of 2000. That nation's annual precipitation fell within days on the dry and desiccated lands.

The most likely areas to experience more flooding are high-latitude countries, such as the United Kingdom.

At the time this book went to press, the IPCC saw increased flooding as a future event. At this point, scientists can't blame existing levels of climate change for any major changes in flooding, but it may only be a few more years before scientists trace the recent floods to climate change.

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