Urban floods make the news with alarming regularity. Just in the past few months, Hurricane Harvey submerged Houston, and the seasonal monsoon crippled cities in South Asia. Dramatic floods from increasingly severe storms come with a steep cost, both human and financial, and the problem will only get worse with climate change. One of the biggest culprits for the deadly toll these floods wreak? Urbanization.
As cities develop, miles of impervious pavement are laid over forest or wetlands, displacing the natural flood management systems like creeks, underground streams, or bogs. In a completely uninhabited landscape, rainfall integrates into the natural water cycle by four different ways: it either soaks all the way to the ground and becomes groundwater; runs down valleys into bodies of water and finds its way to the sea; is taken up by plants; or just evaporates. In urban or suburban sprawls with paved roads, highways, and parking lots, water has nowhere to go, so every heavy rain can turn into a flood… Read more from JSTOR Daily