For the last century, the U.S. Geological Survey, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and others have collected data on flooding activity to assess damage and help predict future events. Accurately forecasting the frequency and magnitude of flooding events is critical for infrastructure design, environmental management, and disaster preparedness and response.
Although long-term flood records are useful, there may also be large-scale, systematic forces at work that past studies have not adequately captured. For one, traditional prediction methods often assume that flood hydrology is stationary, or, rather, that the magnitude and variability of flood events do not change systematically over time. However, climate change and water management practices could significantly alter the magnitude and variability of extreme flooding events, causing floods to become nonstationary.
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