Overlooked Channels Influence Water Flow and Flooding Along Gulf Coast
An unnoticed network of channels is cutting across the coastal plain landscape along the Gulf Coast and influencing how water flows, according to research from The University of Texas at Austin that could help predict flooding from major storms in the future.
The coastal plains are relatively flat, which has kept most research on flood risk and water flow focused on large rivers in the region. But the new research led by scientists with UT Austin and the Water Institute of the Gulf revealed that although the surface elevation is steady, the landscape is covered in narrow but deep channels that play an important role in moving water.
“Typically, flood risk has been characterized in Texas and Louisiana based on how close you are to a river,” said the study’s lead author, John Swartz, who started the research as a doctoral student at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences and is now a research scientist at the Water Institute of the Gulf. “But we see through things like Hurricane Harvey that what is happening to the broader landscape when there is a lot of water present is really important.”
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