Floods constitute one of the easier environmental phenomena to describe. A flood is, in no uncertain terms, an excess of water hitting a particular location at one time. Water levels rise far beyond normal, and anything on the land that the flood is hitting is either wiped away or, at the very least, surrounded by water. Though they can be fairly minor and occasionally beneficial, floods are generally considered bad by the average person.
But what causes a flood? What triggers water to come rushing in in huge volumes? That is not always so easily explained. This article will provide a scientific explanation of how floods occur.
Floods can happen at any time, and are much more often minor than they are major. Floods occur daily in households all over the planet: whenever a pipe bursts and covers the floor in water, for example, it triggers a flood. This is easily explained and pushed away as a nuisance to be cleaned up.
Natural floods are a bit trickier to explain, though the principle behind them is the same: an excess of water has accumulated in a particular spot and overflowed normal barriers, resulting in a temporary immersion of land under water. This can stem from something as simple as a pool of water getting too high and overflowing to the waters of a river rising seasonally and washing out the banks.
The causes of these natural floods are many and varied, may or may not involve existing bodies of water, and can include some of the following:
- The over-accumulation of rainfall in one or more areas, sometimes resulting in runoff that can increase the volume of water in an established water source at a great distance
- The arrival of major storms that bring massive volumes of water in a short period of time
- The melting of winter snow or runoff from nearby mountains
These forms of flooding are usually known as Seasonal Flooding. There is, however, another form of flooding that can potentially be even more dangerous: Coastal Flooding.
Coastal Flooding occurs when the water level of an ocean, or potentially a major lake, is disrupted by a natural or man-made event. The water is pushed in all directions, out from the disturbance, and often makes landfall. This displacement of liquid can result in the flooding of coastal areas, typically beaches. These Coastal Floods are typically caused by high-power storms crossing over an ocean, and can range from tiny waves splashing on the shore to mass floods smashing a community.
Most devastating of Coastal Flooding are those caused by tsunamis. Tsunamis are massive waves of water, often over 100 feet tall, that are triggered by undersea earthquakes. The rising or falling of the ocean floor caused by shifts in tectonic plates will displace the water around it and form a tsunami that can cause massive amounts of damage in a short time. A tsunami was, in 2010, responsible for killing hundreds of Indonesians and crippling the country's infrastructure.
Even at its bare bones, flooding is not something to take lightly. Even light floods can destroy property, and the heavier among them have counted among some of the most devastating natural disasters visited on human communities. If you see any hint of a flood occurring, either work to stem the flow of the water by building barriers to contain the water or, in severe cases, get out of the affected area. This website provides details of avoiding the effects of a flood.