Editorial Feature

The Methods and Benefits of Flood Monitoring

A flood monitoring system is used to monitor a rise in water levels. The system comprises sensors that are deployed in cities or any area of interest. The sensors can be connected to either the main electricity or can be solar-powered. These sensors are deployed on bridges, wells, lakes, or beaches to measure water levels in real-time and continuously send data remotely to the centralized data system management via different networks such as GSM, mobile cell networks, or Wi-Fi.

flooding, flood monitoring

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Causes of Flooding and the Importance of Flood Monitoring

A flood can be described as an overflow of water in an area considered to be relatively dry. They can cause considerable damage to property and the environment, including crops and wildlife, and are an additional financial cost.

Floods can be caused by natural disasters or water pipe breaks. In the United States, it is reported that more than 800 floods are triggered by water pipe breaks, leading to excessive damage which can amount to well over $15,000 for homeowners. Flooding is also associated with the development of mold which can appear within 24 hours.

Overflowing rivers can lead to flooding the areas along the river. If heavy precipitation is received upstream of a river, the large water volumes can flood the houses of people who live along the river downstream, even if it did not rain severely there.

Broken dams can also lead to flooding. Aging dams, which can be overwhelmed by high levels of water, can fail and unleash torrents of water to the unsuspecting residents, causing devastating flooding.

Melting snow and ice after a heavy snowfall and other forms of precipitation can lead to flooding once temperatures begin to warm.

Climate Change and Flood Monitoring

Connecting climate change to flooding is challenging as a result of limited data on floods, making it difficult to measure or compare against climate-driven trends today. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted that it is increasingly clear that climate change has detectibly influenced several water-related variables that directly contribute to flooding.

The changing climate has had a profound effect on weather patterns. In an area such as Washington DC, which has been historically wet, the changes such as a rise in atmospheric temperatures can lead to more severe precipitation and storms. Combined, these factors are the fuel to other extreme weather incidents such as landslides and flooding.

Part of this is the result of more water vapor being present in the air due to higher humidity, with the increasing temperatures allowing more water to exist as a gas. Another reason is increased evaporation due to increased atmospheric temperatures facilitating evaporation in the water cycle.

Benefits of Flood Monitoring

Because of the devastating effects that floods can have on people and their environments, flood monitoring systems have been developed to help prepare and warn people of emanating danger. The systems can help prevent excessive damage and loss as a result of flooding and possibly save lives.

Some benefits of using a flood monitoring system include:

  • High reliability as data is sent in real-time
  • Timely detection of flood risks
  • Tailored solutions that can easily be integrated with external development at any level such as connectivity, user application, and device.

Data collected using a flood monitoring system can be used in future studies for weather patterns and climate change.

Flood monitoring systems also have total integration and adaptation with emergency plans. They consume less energy and can be powered with solar energy. Flood monitoring system equipment is highly resilient and has a long working life span, making it very convenient and cost-effective.

Challenges Faced in Flood Monitoring

Flood risk information can be acquired via past flood records that occurred in the area, surveying assets and people exposed to floods, and the use of predictive modeling.

The use of historical flood records is often unavailable. To understand the vulnerable areas, expensive mapping and surveys need to be carried out and have to be constantly updated with dynamic urban growth. Predictive modeling also requires the collection of data sets such as land use, topography, exposure, and soil types.

This task requires the availability of highly skilled staff who can run simulations and analyze the collected data. In rural areas, flood monitoring systems may not be available and rely on human observers as opposed to sensors.

New Developments and the Future of Flood Monitoring

Many western European countries were recently subjected to severe flooding which resulted in huge economic losses and multiple deaths. Floods have become a frequent threat as a result of climate change, but with the development of artificial intelligence (AI), a much more advanced flood detection system has been developed based on deep computer algorithms.

The development of smart cameras and sensor technology helps detect the water levels and measure the probability of flooding even before the floods happen.

With much more research being carried out to improve flood monitoring systems, many governments are investing in much quicker methods of detection. Aside from real-time analysis, visualization will also help emergency authorities to showcase current conditions, allowing citizens to take action and prepare adequately.

References and Further Reading

Linkwise Technology Group of Companies. n.d. Flood Monitoring System | Applications. [online] Available at: https://linkwisetech.com/applications/flood-monitoring-system

Crime Intervention Alarm. n.d. The Importance of Flood Monitoring - Crime Intervention Alarm. [online] Available at: https://cialarm.com/2018/01/31/importance-flood-monitoring/

B-Air Blowers, Air Movers & Dehumidifiers | Commercial Equipment. 2018. What Causes Floods? | The 8 Most Common Causes of Flooding. [online] Available at: https://b-air.com/2018/02/common-causes-flooding/

Nps.gov. n.d. Flooding and Climate Change (U.S. National Park Service). [online] Available at: https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/flooding-climateimpact.htm

NexSens. 2019. Flood Warning Systems. [online] Available at: https://www.nexsens.com/blog/flood-warning-systems.htm

Denchak, M., 2019. Flooding and Climate Change: Everything You Need to Know. [online] NRDC. Available at: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/flooding-and-climate-change-everything-you-need-know

Senix Ultrasonic Distance and Ultrasonic Level Sensors. n.d. The Role of Ultrasonic Sensors in Flood Monitoring Systems. [online] Available at: https://senix.com/flood-monitoring-ultrasonic-sensors/

Envira IOT. n.d. Flood monitoring and warning system. [online] Available at: https://enviraiot.com/flood-monitoring-warning-system/

Fwr.org. 2016. Assessing the Benefits of FloodWarning: A Scoping Study. [online] Available at: http://www.fwr.org/floodde/ukcc10.htm

Daad.wb.tu-harburg.de. n.d. Challenges of Flood Management: E-Learning Platform for IFM. [online] Available at: http://daad.wb.tu-harburg.de/tutorial/integrated-flood-management-ifm-policy-and-planning-aspects/ifm-concept/challenges-of-flood-management/

Perera, D., Seidou, O., Agnihotri, J., Mehmood, H. and Rasmy, M., 2020. Challenges and Technical Advances in Flood Early Warning Systems (FEWSs). In Flood Impact Mitigation and Resilience Enhancement. IntechOpen

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Olivia Hudson

Written by

Olivia Hudson

Olivia has recently graduated with a double bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and Business Management from the RMIT University in Australia. During her studies, she volunteered in Peru to construct wind turbines for local communities that did not have access to technology. This experience developed into an active interest and passion in discovering new advancements in materials and the construction industry.  

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