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Climate change is making flooding worse: 3 reasons the world is seeing more record-breaking deluges

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Fast-moving floodwater obliterated sections of major roads through Yellowstone National Park in 2022. Heavy rain combined with melting snow can be a destructive combination.

In mid-June 2022, storms dumped up to 5 inches of rain over three days in the mountains in and around Yellowstone National Park, rapidly melting snowpack. As the rain and meltwater poured into creeks and then rivers, it became a flood that damaged roads, cabins and utilities and forced more than 10,000 people to evacuate .

The Yellowstone River shattered its previous record and reached its highest water levels recorded since monitoring began almost 100 years ago.

Although floods are a natural occurrence, human-caused climate change is making severe flooding events like this more common . I study how climate change affects hydrology and flooding. In mountainous regions, three effects of climate change in particular are creating higher flood risks: more intense precipitation, shifting snow and rain patterns and the effects of wildfires on the landscape. Warmer air leads to more intense precipitation

One effect of climate change is that a warmer atmosphere creates more intense precipitation events .

This occurs because warmer air can hold more moisture. The amount of water vapor that the atmosphere can contain increases […]

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