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UN Climate Change Report Predicts More Flooding In Midwest

Heavier rainfalls could damage crops or cause increased flooding in cities with insufficient drainage.

flood

Photo: Paul (Flickr)

While flooding is expected to be become more frequent, annual rainfall totals might not increase, research indicates.

The Midwest is likely to experience more flash floods because of climate change, according to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released today.

Research indicates Indiana and other Midwestern states may not see more rainfall—it will just come in shorter, more intense bursts.

That could create serious flooding problems if cities don’t have adequate stormwater and drainage systems.

“The giant concrete or asphalt around Walmart is going to have to be planned much more carefully or it’s going to overload the sewage system,” says Otto Doering, the director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center.

Doering says there are alternatives such as porous parking lots that allow water to be better absorbed back into the natural groundwater system and prevent flooding.

The changing climate could also create problems for farmers. Less frequent rain isn’t good for crops and heavier rains mean more erosion.

Greene County farmer Daniel Warland says he’s already taking steps to improve his soil and prevent erosion.

“First of all we no-till and then we use cover crops on about half of our land and then we’ve got waterways,” Warland says.

While those practices would help minimize the effects of climate change, Warland says they are also just good farming practices as long as farmers are willing to make the investment.

Doering says that investment is key to minimizing the impacts of climate change even if they might not be felt for decades down the road.

“I look at it from the standpoint of an insurance policy,” Doering says. “You take fire insurance out on your house. You don’t expect the house to be burned down every day when you get home. But it’s a level of catastrophe for you that you can’t afford to have.”

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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