Thursday, July 18, 2013

2010 study warned of more frequent flooding in Calgary

Matt McClure in the Calgary Herald: Provincial and city officials were warned three years ago that climate change could cause Calgary to suffer more frequent and devastating floods. Despite the predictions of more intense rainfalls if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increased, a 2010 engineering study suggested the worst-case inundation on the Bow and Elbow rivers still wouldn’t be as bad as previously predicted.

“It is anticipated that such changes in precipitation patterns could increase the frequency and intensity of extreme events,” the study said. “There is no clear evidence that the patterns in magnitude or timing of flood peaks have changed significantly over the past 100 years.”

The $80,000 report — produced by Golder Associates consultants in Calgary for what is now Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development — was supposed to guide emergency response planning and flood mapping efforts by the province and the city.

It’s unclear how the report was later used or whether it prompted complacency among local and provincial officials, who might have concluded from the findings that the risk of the sort of flood that Calgary witnessed four weeks ago was more remote than previously thought.

But for the hydrologist whose climate change research was cited in the report, the 2013 floods were no surprise. “I kind of felt like saying ‘I told you so’ when it happened,” said Caterina Valeo, “because my work clearly showed flooding was likely to increase.”...

The Centre Street Bridge in Calgary during the Alberta floods of 2013, shot by Ryan L. C. Quan, Wikimedia Commons,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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