New Technology Is on the Horizon to Help Predict Flooding

Posted by Justin Havre. on Thursday, July 17th, 2014 at 8:01am.

After last year's flood in Calgary and the flooding that occurred in Manitoba and Saskatchewan this summer, scientists are working on ways to better predict the impact and locations of floods. Public Safety Canada reports that most Canadian floods are caused by a spring runoff. When temperatures rise very quickly, ice and snow can melt fast. As well, seasonal storms and ice jams can also contribute heavily to the flooding problem.

As far as property damage goes, flooding is still the most costly of any natural disasters that take place in Canada. With this in mind, scientists have been using satellite data to assess flooding impacts across the country. They can also use data to help predict the duration and the extent of the floodwaters, develop better mitigation methods for flooding and analyze the future impact of any proposed projects for water diversion.

New research is also showing that gravity changes can serve as an early warning for floods. Nature Geoscience has published a study showing that a river basin that has been waterlogged will produce a gravitational pull that is stronger. Satellite data can show when a river basin has been filling up with water over the course of several months.

When the ground has been saturated already with water, it is more prone to a flood when more rain comes down. When the ground is already saturated, and the basin has already become full, the water has to go somewhere else.

Gravity signals can be detected from space using satellite data but this solution needs to be refined. There is a plan in place to get high-resolution flood warnings sent out bi-weekly. This new technology would be able to warn of many impeding floods one season before they occur.

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