August 3, 2011

In Your Backyard: New NRDC Web Tool Details How Climate Change Will Worsen Flood Rates and Other Growing Problems Affecting Midwestern States

IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD and WI analyzed in NRDC web tool

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Climate change will worsen the health problems associated with the Midwest's already-high rate of flooding, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

A new web tool unveiled by NRDC lets users read just how badly their state might be impacted by climate change. On the site,, users can see local data and maps detailing extreme weather patterns throughout the country, see local climate change vulnerabilities and learn about health problems in their own communities that are connected to climate change.

Based on an analysis of data from stream flow gauging stations from the United States Geological Survey and other sources, NRDC's new "Climate Change Threatens Health" webpage to see how climate change see the effects of climate change at a regional and state level, including flooding in the Midwest.

For example, the NRDC web tool uses a comparison of flow data in each state from 2000 through 2009 to local conditions from 1961 to 1990 to describe areas with high flows Users can see that the watersheds in 31 percent of the states and the District (16 of 51: AK, CT, DE, FL, IN, ME, MA, NE, NH, NJ, NY, ND, OH, PA, SD, VT) had more than 23 days of extreme high flow in major watersheds - more than 3 weeks per year, on average.

Flooding can cause a range of health problems and risks, including: death and injury, contaminated drinking water, hazardous material spills, increased populations of disease-carrying insects and rodents, moldy houses, and community disruption and displacement. Many communities do not have plans in place to address these problems.

Among the other key findings throughout the United States:

  • Another 41 percent of states (21: AL, AR, DC, GA, IL, IO, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, RI, TN, TX, VA, WA, WV, WI) had most of their watersheds with 15 or more days' extreme high flow - more than two weeks per year. Watersheds in every state experienced days of extreme high flows and/or multiple days above floodstage during the last decade.
  • Of the 16 states most vulnerable to flooding, 81 percent do not have climate change adaptation plans that specifically address its health impacts (13 of 16: AK, CT, DE, IN, ME, MA, NE, NH, NJ, ND, OH, SD, VT), highlighting the low state of national climate-health preparedness in many location.
  • On the positive side, 19 percent of states (3 of 16: FL, NY, PA) in the highest vulnerability group have flooding climate-preparedness plans to help protect their residents' health. Five other states have flood climate-health preparedness plans already in place (5 of 51, or 10 percent of states: CA, MD, OR, WA, WI).

"Climate change is real and in many cases is already affecting people and natural ecosystems," said Kim Knowlton, senior scientist in NRDC's health and environment program "Our analysis will help people across the country find out exactly how climate change affects their state. From the dangers of extreme heat and increased flooding to the spread of ragweed whose pollen causes allergies or mosquitoes that can spread disease, climate change does not discriminate and local communities need to be better prepared."

Dan Lashof, director of NRDC's Climate Center, said these threats, aggravated by increased levels of carbon pollution, illustrate the danger of congressional efforts to dismantle the Clean Air Act and its public health protections.

"Climate preparedness should be better funded, and the states that don't have public health preparedness strategies in their climate adaptation plans definitely need to add those," Lashof said. "Our maps show this is an ongoing problem, and the health effects of this summer's heat waves have not even been fully measured yet."

The NRDC website can be found here

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at

SOURCE Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C.