With city-wide flood disasters predicted by 2070, it has become ever more paramount that humans hone their abilities to accurately predict and counter-act the dangerous forces of nature. Most of us are beginning to realize that if we treat the world as well as we possibly can, as a collective unit, the devastation will be easier to curtail. Mother Nature may act more kindly upon us if we aim to reduce climate change more meticulously (and with energy investigations such as this and this, perhaps we can achieve this before it’s all too late).

A large share of mega-cities worldwide suck onto the Earth’s rivers, seas and oceans that they were built upon, particularly good examples can be seen in “the mega-deltas of East and South Asia“. The urban fabric is the flood plain and with sprawl added into the equation, the issue will only intensify in the next 40 years. Added to this, findings show that climate changes in major cities, leading to rising average temperatures, will lead to an approximate surge in precipitation by 2-10% in 2050. The conflation of both rising water levels and increased rainfall is a precarious equation to solve, with 1-in-10 year floods occurring on a 3-4 year basis.

Human activity around (the lowest lying) river deltas is opening up new problems, making these areas even more at risk from sea level rises. There are even reports suggesting that by 2100, sea-neighboring urban areas are being advised “to plan for a rise of at least five feet” due to Arctic glacier melting.

It is not just the environmental and social impacts that the future increases in urban flooding will cause but the economic too. According to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, “the costs of urban flooding could rise to between £1-10 billion pounds a year by the 2080s”. This could lead to an even greater thinning of public funds, which would normally be absorbed by the welfare state, technological research, crime prevention and many other vital aspects of civilization.

Potential Remedies:

1. Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs):
“These may take the form of areas of vegetation like grassy banks or green roofs, or natural water storage features like ponds. There are some engineered components such as porous paving. While the components can differ greatly, all SUDS employ one or more of the following:
• encouraging uptake of water by the ground (‘infiltration’),
• reducing peak flow rates of runoff (‘attenuation’),
• transferring runoff in a controlled manner to other sites (‘conveyance’),
• capturing water directly on site for controlled discharge later (‘storage’). SUDS also employ a range of natural process to purify urban runoff. Removal of sediment, biofiltration, biodegradation and water uptake by plants all help to remove pollutants.” [via: ActionAid]

2. Reliance On New Flood Prevention Technologies:
Whether the new technology focuses on the physical prevention (e.g. sea walls, levees, dykes, dams, etc) or predictive preventions (e.g. satellites and computer generated monitoring) or, more than likely, both – there will need to be long-term evidence that it can truly be relied upon. Often enough the force of nature can take on rather unpredictable strength, especially the force of water, and predictions are likely to only be for warning purposes. For example, London have already implemented future flood prevention methods with the Thames Barrier, which is said to be able to hold flooding until 2070.

3. Flooding Becomes Strongly Enforced On The Political Agenda
Below is a video by the Foresight team at the University of Nottingham on how important flooding will be in the shaping of local and national policy, land use planning and the settlement of services across the United Kingdom.