“Obviously having flooding is bad, but having a flood every two years or three years is even worse,” said Hans Paerl, UNC Institute of Marine Sciences.
Paerl and his team just wrapped up a study looking at 120 years of climate data.
Their focus…North Carolina.
They found that 6 of the 7 highest precipitation events in the state within that record occurred in the last 20 years.
“For something like that to happen it would be a likelihood of about two percent. It’s likely that we weren’t just unlucky. We’re just seeing a trend with more rainfall associated with more recent storms,” said Paerl.
From hurricanes, to pop-up thunderstorms…data shows North Carolina is seeing more rain, more frequently because of the warming climate.
That could lead to flooding.
The chance for increased flooding is something that makes one New Bern resident slightly nervous.
“We also have this lush beautiful type of environment, and it does concern me with blow ups of tree falls, power lines down, loss and damage to people’s homes,” said Jeremy McConnell, New Bern resident.
Flooding isn’t Paerl’s only concern.
With more water running off into streams and estuaries…the nutrients in the water are thrown off balance.
This makes it difficult for fish and other organisms to survive.
“If we get a major storm and we have a follow up storm within two years, maybe three years, we know these ecosystems in estuaries and coastal waters are still recovering from a major storm event several years after,” said Paerl.
Despite this Paerl said there’s still hope.
He encouraged people to not develop in flood plains, maintain natural boundaries around agricultural and urban areas, and to cut back on fertilizers.
“This is not a doom and gloom story. We can minimize the impacts through individual efforts as well as larger scale agricultural land use efforts,” said Paerl.