Flood monitoring systems are used to monitor rising water levels. The system includes sensors deployed in cities or any area of interest. The sensor can be connected to mains power or solar powered. These sensors are deployed on bridges, wells, lakes or beaches to measure the water level in real time and continuously send the data remotely to centralized data system management through different networks such as GSM, mobile cellular network or Wi-Fi.
Causes of Floods and the Importance of Flood Monitoring
Flooding can be described as the overflow of water in an area that is considered relatively dry. They can cause considerable damage to property and the environment, including crops and wildlife, and are an additional economic cost.
Flooding can be caused by natural disasters or burst water mains. In the U.S., more than 800 floods have been reported to have been caused by broken water mains, resulting in excessive damages that can exceed $15,000 for homeowners. Water immersion was also associated with the development of mold within 24 hours.
River flooding can cause flooding in areas along rivers. If there is heavy precipitation in the upper reaches of the river, even if there is no heavy rain there, a large amount of water can flood the houses of residents along the lower river. Broken dams can also cause flooding. Aging dams that can become inundated with high water levels can collapse and unleash floodwaters on unsuspecting residents, causing devastating floods. Once temperatures start to warm, melting snow and ice following heavy snowfall and other forms of precipitation could lead to flooding.
Climate Change and Flood Monitoring
Linking climate change to floods is challenging due to limited flood data, making it difficult to measure or compare with today's climate-driven trends. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is increasingly clear that climate change significantly affects several water-related variables that directly lead to flooding.
A changing climate is having a profound effect on weather patterns. In areas such as Washington, D.C., which have been historically wet, changes such as warmer atmospheric temperatures could lead to more severe precipitation and storms. Combined, these factors contribute to other extreme weather events such as landslides and floods.
This is partly due to the presence of more water vapor in the air due to higher humidity, allowing more water to exist as a gas as the temperature rises. Another reason is that rising atmospheric temperatures lead to increased evaporation, which promotes evaporation in the water cycle.
Benefits of Flood Monitoring
Because floods can have devastating effects on humans and their environment, flood monitoring systems were developed to help people prepare and warn people of ongoing danger. These systems can help prevent excessive damage and loss due to flooding, and potentially save lives.
Some of the benefits of using a flood monitoring system include:
Data is sent in real time with high reliability
Timely detection of flood risks
Tailor-made solutions can be easily integrated with external developments at any level, such as connectivity, user applications and devices.
Data collected using the flood monitoring system can be used for future research on weather patterns and climate change.
The flood monitoring system is also fully integrated and aligned with the emergency plan. They consume less energy and can be powered by solar energy. Flood monitoring system equipment is highly resilient and long-lived, very convenient and cost-effective.
Flood Monitoring Challenges
Flood risk information can be obtained by recording past floods in the area, surveying flood-exposed assets and people, and using predictive models.
Historical flood records are usually not available. To understand vulnerable areas, expensive mapping and surveys are required and must be continuously updated as the city dynamically develops. Predictive modeling also requires the collection of datasets such as land use, topography, exposure and soil type.
This task requires highly skilled employees who can run simulations and analyze the data collected. In rural areas, flood monitoring systems may not be available and rely on human observers rather than sensors.
New developments and the future of flood monitoring
Many Western European countries have recently suffered severe flooding, causing huge economic losses and many deaths. Flooding has become a common threat due to climate change, but with the development of artificial intelligence (AI), more advanced flood detection systems have been developed based on deep computer algorithms. Developments in smart sensor technology are helping to detect water levels and measure the likelihood of floods before they occur.
As more research is done to improve flood monitoring systems, many governments are investing in faster detection methods. In addition to real-time analysis, visualization will help emergency services show the current situation so that citizens can take action and be fully prepared.